Vision (Vol 1): Little Worse Than a Man by Whom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Vision (Vol 1): Little Worse Than a Man by Whom King and Gabriel Hernandez WaltaSummary: Vision creates a family, moves to the suburbs and eventually faces reality.

Comics, and the broader Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, are often best when they present a story that is more than just the surface action. The top level story can be enjoyed but there is a satire element that is underneath for those that are able to understand. The X-Men have frequently have underlying themes of race and social exclusion. It is almost cliché at this point for superhero stories to really be about what it means to want to fit in.

Vision is not a character I am familiar with. I never got around to seeing Age of Ultron, so I did not see his movie introduction. And I have not previous read any of his comics. But I poked around a little bit for enough background to understand. Vision (as I understand it) was created by Ultron to be a synthetic human. Vision turned on his creator and jointed the Avengers. But like many synthetic creatures in sci fi history, we as human assume that the perfect physical being really wants to be like us, a limited human.

In Little Worse Than a Man, Vision has created a family. Vision, and the members of his family are synthetic humans, but required the brainwaves of a particular human to give them personality and emotion. Vision’s brainwaves were taken by Ultron from a human (and that human’s brother became The Grim Reaper in order to kill off Vision to avenge his brother.) Where the brainwaves for Virginia (wife), Viv (daughter) and Vin (son) came from is not revealed in this book.

March Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

March Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate PowellSummary: First in a trilogy of autobiographical graphic novels on Civil Rights leader John Lewis.

I have mentioned before that I subscribe to Christ and Pop Culture Magazine. The primary illustrator there (he also works with Christianity Today and other organizations) has an comic book review site. Because of his advocacy for comics and graphics novels I have picked up several well reviewed graphic novels. This week will be graphic novel week at

March has been on my radar for a while, but I picked it up on Friday because it was (and is as of posting) for $4 on Kindle. I read it in a sitting and immediately purchased the whole trilogy on paper to give to a friend.

John Lewis was a Civil Rights leader, chairman of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Council, one of the original Freedom Riders, one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington and more. In 1986 he was elected to Congress and continues to serve as Georgia 5th Congressional District Representative.

March book one tells the early history of John Lewis growing up, going to college, meeting Martin Luther King Jr and the Nashville Lunch counter sit in. I am a fan of Nate Powell‘s art (most of the graphic novels I read this week were by Nate Powell). But some of the lettering gets a little bit small in the paperback version (or it needs to be enlarged to read on kindle.) With that one minor complaint, this is an excellent book and I will soon finish reading the next two books in the trilogy.

Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible

I am reposting this 2009 review because The Good Book is on sale for $.99 for the Kindle Edition and audiobook is $3.99 with purchase of the Kindle Edition.

Summary: A non-practicing Jew reads the Old Testament and blogs his way through it.

The Good Book was interesting, maybe the last chapter the most interesting of all. The author is Jewish, although not really practicing. So when he starts reading the Hebrew Bible (or the Christian Old Testament) it is not in the same way that many others would read it.

Plotz is a friend of the text, he doesn’t deconstruct it or tear it apart. Instead he reads it, mostly as a person with very little history with the text. He is amazed, delighted and horrified by it.

If you want to see what the Old Testament is like to someone that doesn’t really know the stories, but is highly educated, thoughtful and interested, then this is a book for you. If you are concerned when someone does not think the same way as you do about scripture, then you should skip it. But this is a book that pastors and others that are serious about scripture should read, because Plotz has reasonable questions. Some of them would be easy to answer, he just needs more info. But many of them are exceedingly hard.

I listened to this as an audiobook. It was David Plotz (the author) that read the book. I usually like listening to authors reading their own books. They have a level of investment and ownership in the book that many other narrators don’t have. I tend to like memoir-y explorations of things as a general category of audiobook, so this is a perfect book for me. I also will say that I had this on my “To Buy” list for a while but it wasn’t until it was offered for free on Audible as part of an advertising promotion with the Slate Political Gabfest that I picked it up. But I would buy it again.

The Good Book Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (Mangus Chase #2)

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (Mangus Chase #2)Summary: Thor has lost his hammer again and Magnus Chase and his friends have to find it before the giants know it is gone and decide to invade.

Rick Riordan and his Percy Jackson books exploded onto the middle grade book scene in 2005. And he has been churning out books since then. By my count, The Hammer of Thor is his 22nd novel since 2005 (he had 7 novels before that). As I said last year in my review of the first book in this series, I loved the initial Percy Jackson series. The follow up heroes of Olympus series declined as it went on. I did not like the first of the Kane Chronicle and did not read further. But with Magnus Chase was back to good again.

The Hammer of Thor follows soon after the end of the first book. Magnus Chase died early in the first book. He is now in Valhalla, a Norse afterlife for heroes that die saving others. He can come and go from there as he wants to. Being the son of Frey, a Norse god of healing, Magnus has some healing powers (similar to the way that Percy Jackson as a son of Neptune has powers over water).

The second main character is Samirah al-Abbas (Sam), daughter of Loki, and a Valkyrie (one of those mortals that is given powers to choose heroes to go to Valhalla). Similar to Ms Marvel, Sam is also a teenaged practicing Muslim. This gives Riordan some space to deal with how the ancient gods can relate to the worldwide monotheistic religions.

Hammer of Thor is a middle grade/young adult novel. But as an adult it is a nice novel to breeze through. I appreciate the humor and the story. Riordan continues to include a wide range of characters, which is important to the way he writes. I will be impatiently waiting for the next book, scheduled for Oct 3, 2017.

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (Mangus Chase #2) Purchase Links: 
Hardcover, Kindle Edition, Audiobook

Super Famous (Ms Marvel Vol 5) by GW Wilson

Ms Marvel Volume 5: Super Famous book reviewSummary: Ms Marvel is actually starting to grow into her role as a super hero. But fame doesn’t give her more time or energy to devote to what is important in life.

I am having problems finding time to write reviews, let alone actually read the books. I picked up the latest Ms Marvel collection, Super Famous, because the whole series is on sale for $3.99 each right now. Saturday night while I waiting to make sure my son was going to fall asleep before rejoining the rest of my family at my mother in law’s cabin I quickly read through the 100 pages of comics that are in the collection.

I like comics, but as much as I find the art interesting and love seeing the way that the comic method allows for a different type of story telling than just straight text, I still mostly read comics for the story.

In Super Famous, Ms Marvel is now a part of the Avengers (her work with them is mostly off screen). She is still in high school. She still has over protective parents (she is a second generation Pakistani Muslim immigrant, which is such an important thread to what makes this series so good.) She still is trying to figure out how to deal with the ramifications of her power and the weight of responsibility that comes with them.

Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms by Tim Tebow and AJ Gregory

This review was written by Contributor Vikki Huisman

Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms by Tim Tebow book reviewI’m not a football fan by any stretch of the imagination but I do know who Tim Tebow is.

Or at least I thought I did.

If asked, I would have said, “Isn’t he the guy who keeps getting cut from NFL teams and does that bow after he scores a touchdown?” The answer to that question is both yes and no.

I decided to read Tebow’s soon-to-be released book, Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms in an effort to bond with the only football fan in my home, my 16-year-old son. Although my son wasn’t impressed with my reading material, I did find myself impressed with the former NLF quarterback who is now playing baseball for the New York Mets.

Shaken gives the reader an inside look on what it was like as Tebow worked hard at staying grounded in his faith and working on his NFL dreams in the midst of disappointment, intense criticism and non-stop media scrutiny.

Although I’ve read spiritual memoirs that have resonated with me on a more personal level, I’m hard pressed to find someone in the public realm who publicly professes their faith and has dealt with the amount of publicity and disappointment that Tim Tebow has. Most of us have dealt with unfulfilled homes, unrealized dreams, rejection and heartbreak. Tebow shares the life lessons he’s learned privately while living under a public microscope; building his identity in Christ, not the world.

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny (Chief Inspector Gamache #12)

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny (Chief Inspector Gamache #12) book reviewSummary: Stepping out of retirement, former Chief Inspector Gamache, has agreed to take over Surete (Quebec police) academy. 

A Great Reckoning is not a novel that you want to pickup if you are new to the series.  You could read it and I think enjoy it. But there is a lot of assumed back story. Gamache and his wife are retired in the small village of Three Pines. But Gamache still feels to pull to continue to root out the corruption inside the police force from the previous several books.

I really like this series and this is one of the best books in the series. It is not without its faults. The corruption angle I think has been problematic from the start. It is too big and too small at the same time. There is a timeline issue with one of the big reveals that just doesn’t make sense to me (the age of one of the characters and the secret relationship to Gamache’s history doesn’t really work.) But if you set aside the questionable reality of the police corruption and personal vendetta angles and just read them as a story, it rolls out nicely.

Gamache feels like the only way to solve the problem of the academy is to fire most of the bad teachers, but keep the one he thinks is the ringleader and then bring back the privately disgraced, but not incarcerated, former head of the Surete as one of the staff. He hopes he can use them to root one another’s corruption while keeping them under control.

New Prime Benefit – Prime Reading


Amazon has added a new benefit for Amazon Prime members. Prime Reading is a light version of Kindle Unlimited. Prime members can now read up to 10 books, magazines, short stories or children’s books at once. Prime Reading only has just over 1000 book too choose from (compared to 1.4 million books in Kindle Unlimited).

Despite the small number of books, there are a number of books that are worth reading: The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick, 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes, and a number of Lonely Planet travel guides.

Prime Reading isn’t a reason to get Amazon Prime, but it is a nice addition to the list of benefits.

I assume it is to promote Prime Reading. But Amazon Prime members can get $30 off a basic touch kindle ($49), Paperwhite ($99) or $50 off a Kindle Voyage ($149).

You can also get the kid’s kindle bundle for $70 (A basic touch kindle, a case and a 2 year warranty)

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

This review was written by Contributor Vikki Huisman.
Great Small Things by Jodi Picoult book review

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse with over two decades of experience. During a normal checkup on a newborn boy, Ruth is abruptly reassigned to another patient. The baby’s parents are white supremacists who do not want Ruth touching their child. Ruth is African American.

The following day, the baby experiences a cardia event while Ruth is alone with him. Ruth is expressly forbidden from touching the child based on the parents strong wishes. After a hesitation, she springs into action performing CPR but the delay results with Ruth being charged with a crime.

Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries #6)

I am reposting this 2014 review because the Kindle Edition is on sale for $1.99.
Summary: A female crime novelist is accused of poisoning a former lover, and Lord Peter falls for her, but he has to prove she is innocent first.

After reading the first two book of the Lord Peter Wimsey mystery series and enjoying them, but being a bit disappointed by a collection of short stories that came next, I decided to skip to Strong Poison (book six) which many reviews suggest was one of the better books in the series.

Strong Poison opens with a judge reciting the facts of case as he gives instructions to the jury.  Harriet Vine is being accused of poisoning her former lover several months after they stopped living together.  The facts seem just a little too perfect for Peter Wimsey and he is convinced that Harriet Vine is innocent.

After a hung jury, Lord Peter sets out to find evidence for his intuition.  After meeting regularly with Harriet Vine, he falls in love and has even more reason to prove her innocent.

This a well written mystery and I think the best of the series I have read so far.  What I keep discovering about Sayers is that in her hands there are many instances mystery conventions that seem to me to have originated with her.  I have to wonder how much of herself Sayers were writing into this book (and others.)  Here in particular Harriet Vines is a crime novelist that lived with a man out of wedlock (Sayers secretly had a son that was raised as her nephew and his real identity was not revealed until her death.)