Book Six of the IRON DRUID series, Hunted (2013), features a flight across Europe with vampires and some new monsters in pursuit. The Druid’s activities in Asgard still haunt him as Diana and Artemis use their powers to track him across the continent. Loki, and his evil daughter Hel, join forces to bring Ragnarok (the Final Battle to end the Universe). Hunted also includes a bonus novelette, “Two Ravens and One Crow,” which tells the story of how the Druid returns Odin’s spear to the ruler of Asgard.
Book Seven, Shattered (2014), is the first hardcover in the IRON DRUID series. The Druid gets an unlikely ally and manages to forge an alliance with Odin which will come into effect when Ragnarok begins (and it seems like it’s going to happen in the next few books of this series). Kevin Hearne introduces us to the pantheons of gods in India and Japan. The story expands and the identity of the secret adversary of the Druid is revealed. I’m all caught up on this series now. But, when the next volume is published in 2015, I’ll read it. GRADE: B (for both)
When I was a kid, my favorite DC comic superhero was The Flash. The Flash was a chemist named Barry Allen who is given super-speed when a bolt of lightning hits the chemical shelf in his office and douses him with chemicals. The Flash comics were more cerebral than most of the DC comics. The storylines involved science and cleverness. Back in the early 1990s, there was TV series based on The Flash but it didn’t last long. Now, the CW network is trying to bring The Flash back because of the success of their other DC hit, Arrow. The Flash is the highest priced series on the CW network. Each episode costs $1.6 million. The special effects are good. I liked last week’s premiere episode so I’ll stay with The Flash for a few more weeks before I decide to continue or quit watching. Have you seen this new incarnation of The Flash? Were you a fan of the comic back in the 1960s?
After last week’s incredible win in Detroit, the Bills now face their AFC East Division nemesis: Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Patriots have owned the Bills over the past decade. But things might be changing. New owners of the Buffalo Bills, Terry and Kim Pegula, will be introduced before the game. The coaching staff knows they’re playing for their jobs. And the Patriots have had some weak outings this season. First place in the AFC East is up for grabs in this game. How will your favorite NFL team perform today?
In the past year, I’ve fallen asleep with no problem. But about four hours later, I’ll take a bathroom break and then the trouble starts. Even though I’m tired, it sometimes takes me an hour to fall back to sleep. Very annoying! So I decided to try taking a melatonin tablet to help me get back to sleep more quickly. Melatonin is a natural hormone that is part of the sleep process. I’ve been taking melatonin all summer long and I find I’m falling back to sleep more quickly. You mileage may differ. But if you’re experiencing this problem too, you might want to give melatonin a try. It’s inexpensive and I’ve experienced no side-effects.
I’ve been a fan of Edward D. Hoch’s work for decades. Some of his best work can be found in this Crippen & Landru collection, Diagnosis: Impossible (The Problems of Dr. Sam Hawthorne). Hoch specialized in locked room mysteries and other “impossible” crimes. With the Sam Hawthorne stories, Hoch features a lead character who is a physician which comes in handy when solving some of these conundrums. The settings are in New England in the 1920s. The bonus in this volume is Marv Lachman’s useful chronology. If you enjoy great story-telling and puzzle mystery stories, Diagnosis Murder is the book for you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
The problem of the covered bridge
The problem of the old gristmill
The problem of the lobster shack
The problem of the haunted bandstand
The problem of the locked caboose
The problem of the little red schoolhouse
The problem of the Christmas steeple
The problem of cell 16
The problem of the country inn
The problem of the voting booth
The problem of the county fair
The problem of the old oak tree
A Dr. Sam Hawthorne chronology / Marvin Lachman.
I considered saving Hank Davis’ collection, The Baen Big Book of Monsters, for a future FFB but I just can’t resist sharing this wonderful book with you. The Baen Big Book of Monsters takes me back to the Sixties when publishers would assemble stories around some theme and serve it up to an enthusiastic reading audience. This book reminds me of Forrest J. Ackerman’s monster anthologies. In fact, Ackerman edited and wrote a great introduction to Monsters, an anthology of A. E. Van Vogt’s classic SF monsters. As you can see from the Table of Contents, this anthology is a mix of old and new. I enjoyed rereading some of these great stories as well as encountering some new writers. If you’re looking for a theme anthology with plenty of variety, you’ll like The Baen Big Book of Monsters. GRADE: B+
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction: “Size Matters” by Hank Davis
“The Shining Ones” by Arthur C. Clarke (Playboy, August 1964)
“All About Strange Monsters of the Recent Past” by Howard Waldrop (Shayol #4, Winter 1980)
“The Monster-God of Mamurth” by Edmond Hamilton (Weird Tales, August 1926)
“Talent” by Robert Bloch first (If: Worlds of Science Fiction, July 1961)
“The End of the Hunt” by David Drake (New Destinies VIII, Baen Books, 1989)
“Ooze” by Anthony N. Rud (Weird Tales, March 1923)
“The Valley of the Worm” by Robert E. Howard (Weird Tales. February 1934)
“Whoever Fights Monsters” by Wen Spencer – New
“Deviation from a Theme” by Steven Utley (Galaxy, May 1976)
“The Eggs from Lake Tanganyika” by Curt Siodmak (Amazing Stories, July 1926)
“The Dunwich Horror” by H.P. Lovecraft (Weird Tales, April 1929)
“From Out the Fire” by Sarah A. Hoyt — New
“Beauty and the Beast” by Henry Kuttner (Thrilling Wonder Stories, April 1940)
“The Island of the Ud” by William Hope Hodgson (The Red Magazine, May 15, 1912)
“A Single Samurai” by Steven Diamond — New
“Planet of Dread” by Murray Leinster (Fantastic, May 1962)
“An Epistle to the Thessalonians” by Philip Wylie (Finnley Wren, 1934)
“The Monster of Lake Lametrie” by Wardon Allan Curtis (Pearson’s Magazine, September 1899)
“The Giant Cat of Sumatra” by Hank Davis — New
“Greenface” by James H. Schmitz (Unknown Worlds, August 1943)
“Tokyo Raider” by Larry Correia – New
In the 4th volume of the IRON DRUID series, Tricked, the Druid fakes his own death to mislead his enemies. But, the Druid chooses Coyote (the Indian trickster) to help him pull off the deception. In return for his help in the deception, Coyote requires the Druid to convince an elemental to create a gold mine. But, the elemental won’t create a gold mine until a coal mine is shut down. But when the Druid tries to shut down the coal mine, two skinwalkers (powerful Indian supernatural spirits) attack. As you can see from this brief summary, Kevin Hearne builds his plots by having one action lead to unexpected consequences that lead to more unexpected consequences.
In volume 5, Trapped, the Druid’s fake death is revealed. Loki, from the Norse pantheon, arrives intent on burning the Earth to ashes. The Druid goes on the run, but Diana and Atticus (two other powerful figures from Asgard) hunt him down. There are some great battle scenes as the Druid uses his powers in clever ways. If the Druid can reach England, he can enlist Herne the Hunter and Flidais (the Irish goddess of the hunt) to help him. But a bunch of sea serpents lurk in the English Channel under the control of Neptune. Plenty of surprises here! If you’re in the mood for some fantasy fluff, the IRON DRUID series will spirit you away for a few hours. GRADE: B (for both).
This box set qualifies as a Bargain of the Week! On seven discs are some of Grace Kelly’s best movies:
Mogambo—1953 (Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role)
Dial M for Murder—1954 fine Hitchcock murder mystery with Ray Milland
Special Features: Hitchcock and Dial M and 3D: A Brief History/Original 1954 Theatrical trailer
The Country Girl—1954 (7 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture)
The Bridges at Toko-Ri—1954 with William Holden
To Catch a Thief—1955 Alfred Hitchcock classic with a great Cary Grant performance
Special Features: Commentary by Peter Bogdanovich & Laurent Bouzereau;
Writing and Casting To Catch a Thief; The Making of To Catch a Thief;
Alfred Hitchcock and To Catch a Thief: An Appreciation;
Edith Head: The Paramount Years; Theatrical Trailer
High Society—1956 musical with Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby
Special Features: Cole Porter in Hollywood: True Love;
Millionaire Droopy [1956 MGM Cartoon];
Gala Premiere for High Society [Newsreel];
Radio Ads [Audio Only]; Theatrical Trailer
Also Includes Grace Kelly’s last television interview (by Pierre Salinger)
If you’re a fan of Grace Kelly, you’ll love this wonderful collection! GRADE: A
For readers who thought Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies were too long, here’s a new short story collection that captures Mantel’s wit and writing style. Much of Hilary Mantel’s fiction have historical aspects to them, but these short stories are more contemporary. Mantel has fun in these stories, too. There’s a ghost story, stories about marriage, gender, sex, and culture. My favorite stories are “The Long QT” where a husband who is found groping a neighbor at a party has to deal with the unexpected consequences and “Offenses Against the Person” where a daughter discovers her father is having an affair with a secretary. If you’re a Hilary Mantel fan, you’ll be reading this book soon. If you’ve been wondering if you’d like Hilary Mantel’s work, here’s the perfect place to try a sample. GRADE: B
Table of Contents:
•Sorry to Disturb
•The Long QT
•Offenses Against the Person
•How Shall I Know You?
•The Heart Fails Without Warning
•The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher