Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Lightning Thief: Graphic Novel

cover of The Lightning Thief graphic novel
I read The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan around two years ago. Today, I read the graphic novel adaptation of the book. The graphic novel stuck to the highlights of the book. There were missing sections, like Medusa and Auntie Em’s Garden Gnome Emporium. Of course, a graphic novel is limited in the amount of pages it has. The basic plot remains: Percy Jackson finds out he is a half-blood and, in fact, a son of Poseidon. When Zeus’ lightning bolt is stolen, Poseidon is blamed, and Percy goes on a quest to recover the lightning bolt with buddies Grover and Annabeth. The graphics in the novel are great. They add to the story, and I’m sure that they help a person who cannot visualize the story in their mind. It’s a good introduction to the story, and I hope that a child who reads the graphic novel goes in search of the novel to get enjoy even more of the story.

Graphic novels have their place. They give the reader a quick, visual of the highlights of a story. The Lightning Thief graphic novel does a great job in introducing people to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

The Jerusalem Inn by Martha Grimes

cover of Jerusalem Inn by Martha Grimes
I’ve been behind in my reading. There are many excuses: grading papers for 28 students for the end of term, watching playoff hockey, and more things to do at my full-time job. However, I am in catch-up mode now, and just finished reading The Jerusalem Inn by Martha Grimes.

The Jerusalem Inn is the fifth in the Richard Jury/Melrose Plant series, and it was more of the same as the earlier books. Jury meets Helen Minton at the beginning of the book, and after a brief tea, he makes dinner plans with her. Since it’s only a few days till Christmas, they both see this opportunity as a way to have some holiday cheer. Unfortunately, when Jury goes to meet her, he finds the local police in residence. Helen is dead, assumed to be dead due to natural causes. Jury is suspicious, and rightfully so, when it turns out the Helen was poisoned. As Jury tries to find out why someone would want to kill Helen, he learns more about her life with her cousin, and that Helen may have had a child with her cousin. Tracking down the cousin, artist, Edward Parmenger, Jury travels to a snowbound mansion where Plant, his annoying in-law, Agatha, and Vivian Rivington are gathered to celebrate Christmas with the Seainghams, Parmenger, and other assorted characters. As Jury arrives, one of the guests turns up murdered.

Although it took a while for me to read the book, it wasn’t because the book was bad or boring. The story was pretty much the same as the others in the series. I think that I am getting a bit tired of the fact that Jury seems to be relegated to a lonely life without love. Yeah, I get it that he is incredibly handsome. Why can’t he find love in his life? It’s the same with Melrose Plant. There are precocious children in this one, as with the others. This time, it’s little Chrissie in Jerusalem Inn. She says something that makes Jury realize the answer to the mystery. Then there’s Tommy, the young Marquis. He’s 16 and a champion snooker play. Now you might think from some of the comments that I didn’t like the book, but I did like it. And I was not able to guess the murderer. I guess that I should have, but it was a surprise to me. I’ll read more of the series. I just hope that Jury and Plant find some love and happiness in life.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

True Blood comic book: Tainted Love

cover of the True Blood comic book Tainted Love
I love to read, and I'm not one of those readers who snubs her nose at any sort of reading material. I say that because I love to read comic books, graphic novels, and manga. This past weekend, I saw a brand new True Blood comic book at the library. I snapped it up, and happily read it. The volume I found was volume 2, titled Tainted Love. The comic book is based on the HBO series, which is rather loosely based on the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse mysteries. I'm not a huge fan of the HBO series; yeah, I know that makes me an anomaly. In the comic book, someone has tainted Tru Blood, the synthetic blood for vampires. The poison gives the vampire who drinks it a lust for killing and drinking human blood. Usually after going on a rampage, the vampire winds up killing him or herself. When Jessica, the young girl that Bill Comptom was forced to turn into a vampire, drinks the tainted Tru Blood and goes berserk, it's up to Sookie, Bill, Eric, and Sam to figure out what's going on. Although vampires take credit for the tainted Tru Blood, it's really a plot by the Empire of the Sun.

The nice thing about comic books and graphic novels is that it shows you the pictures and the action. Some people may not like that because they want their own imagination to supply the pictures. I enjoyed reading Tainted Love. The plot was good. There was action from beginning to end, and it kept me turning the pages. I don't think the HBO characters jive with the characters from the books, but at least with this comic, I wasn't pulling out my hair with irritation. If you like the HBO series or the books, I think you'll like the comic book.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie

cover of Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie
Cards on the Table is one of the earlier Agatha Christie novels (published in 1936) featuring Hercule Poirot. It also features the first appearance of Ariadne Oliver. The victim, Mr. Shaitana, is a weaselly sort of person. He gets joy out of finding things out about people and collecting them. When Shaitana meets with Poirot, Shaitana mentions that he has a "collection" of people who have committed murder and gotten away with it. Shaitana invites Poirot to a dinner party. When Poirot arrives at the party, he finds mystery writer, Ariadne Oliver, Superintendent Battle from Scotland Yard, and Colonel Race, connected with British intelligence in some undisclosed way. In addition to our four crime solvers, we have four other guests, young Anne Meredith, dashing Major John Despard, Doctor Roberts, and Mrs. Lorrimer. Shaitana throws out hints throughout dinner about undiscovered murders, then he splits the guests into two groups. The detectives play bridge in one room while the murder suspects play in another. At the end of the evening, Shaitana is found stabbed through the heart with a long, sharp, skinny dagger while sitting in a chair by the fire in the room with the murders. It's the classic locked room mystery. Only the four were in the room, and one of them must be the murderer. The question the detectives have is who did it then, and perhaps got away with it in the past? All four take a hand at detecting, and in the end, the finger of blame swings from one to the other before finally settling on the real murderer.

I love Agatha Christie, and her works from the late 1930s and 1940s are her best in my opinion. Cards on the Table is an entertaining mystery. The only problem that I had with the mystery is that bridge plays a huge role in solving the mystery. Knowing who was the dummy, meaning who was the person who was walking around, and what was being played at those particular times helped Poirot with the solution. The bridge score cards were included in the front of the book that I read. I know nothing about bridge, but I could gather enough from Poirot's explanations to get some idea of what was going on. Of course, with that said, I admit that I picked the wrong person as the murderer. It turns out that my choice was a pretty nasty piece of work, but wasn't the murderer of Mr. Shaitana. After the murderer was revealed, I could see that the hints were there. I just missed them, or rather misinterpreted them.

I enjoyed seeing the four detectives too. Ariadne Oliver is supposed to be Christie's image of herself. Mrs. Oliver has issues with her Finn detective. She berates him and wonders why in the world she ever decided to have a Finn as the detective. I love the voice of Christie that comes out. As she says, it's a story, who cares if she has the right flowers in season or if she makes some other similar minor mistake. As long as it doesn't affect the story, who cares. Mrs. Oliver also admits to reusing murder ideas, and if the story is running too short for the prerequisite word count, Mrs. Oliver just throws in some more murders. In this book, one of the earlier murders occurs when a woman accidentally drinks hat dye instead of medicine. The same technique was used in Murder Is Easy. Also, it was good to see Colonel Race and Superintendent Battle in action. Sometimes I think of them as the same man, so it's nice to know that both appear together in this novel. I admit that Hercule Poirot isn't one of my favorites. Yes, I tolerate him because he is in a good number of Christie's mysteries. I prefer Miss Marple.

Spoiler alert! Reading this paragraph might give some clues to the murderer. The four suspects were interesting characters. I found myself liking and admiring Mrs. Lorrimer and Major Despard at the start. I was hoping for romance for Major Despard, and when it came down to Anne Meredith and her housemate, Rhoda Dawes, I was rooting for Rhoda. She was the more outgoing of the two and a definite adventure seeker. Christie never lets the reader down. You know that when there are young people involved that they will find some happiness together.

I really enjoyed Cards on the Table. It wasn't my all time favorite Christie, but it was an enjoyable, quick read. Get your cuppa tea and scones ready, sit in a comfy chair, and let your little grey cells take a romp.