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Red Angel (Criminally Insane #2) (2003)

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by Douglas Clegg AKA Andrew Harper Someone is murdering children and leaving the bodies  to be found.   Still recovering from the traumatic events of the previous book, psychiatric technician Trey Campbell returns to his job working with the criminally insane at Darden State Hospital in a new unit for the particularly dangerous, just as the young son of the unit’s director goes among the missing.   Knowledge of the killer’s pattern makes Trey and director Elise Conroy aware that they only have hours to rescue young Lucas, which makes it more palatable when they take some big risks that would have been more difficult to accept otherwise--risks involving an inmate at Darden who seems to know more about the killer than he possibly could...  Meanwhile, a dedicated detective trying to prove herself to her colleagues also closes in on the killer, leading to a suspenseful climax.  This book is a big improvement over the previous one.  Douglas Clegg still has an odd penchant for extremely shor

Mister B. Gone (2007)

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by Clive Barker A demon who has been imprisoned within the pages  of a book (this book) tells the story of his adventures in 14th century Europe in the hopes of persuading the reader (you) to end his misery by burning it.   "Book Demon" (Spanish) There are some interesting ideas here, such as the conceit that great developments in human culture (in this case, Gutenberg's invention of the printing press) become the catalyst for frenzied warfare and consultation between Heaven and Hell.   "Jakabok: Gutenberg's Demon" (French) However, for the most part, the novel didn't work for me.   "Go to Hell, Mister B" (German) Clive Barker's conception of demon psychology and society was largely incoherent and inconsistent.   Clive Barker Our "hero" enjoys bathing in the blood of infants and killing untold multitudes at some points of the story, yet at other times defends individual humans at the risk of his own life and speaks disapprovingly

All-New X-Men #5 (2013)

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  Random Marvels Project Dipping my net into the ocean of Marvel and seeing what comes up. Writer: Brian Michael Bendis  Pencils: Stuart Immonen  Inker: Wade von Grawbadger with Craig Yeung  The Beast, dying from a further mutation, has traveled back in time to enlist the aid of the teenage X-Men in preventing present-day Cyclops from causing a mutant genocide. Young Beast saves the older Beast's life… …and young Jean Grey gets a look at her future. They grapple a bit with the circumstances but elect to stay, though the vote is not unanimous. The moral landscape of the X-Men saga has become considerably grayer over the years than it was in the days when the team was first concerned by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, as exemplified by the fact that Cyclops appears to have become a villain since I stopped reading comics. The clash between younger, more idealistic characters with their more cynical, world-weary older selves has potential for some interesting stories. Brian Michael Bendis has

The Angels of Mons (1915)

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by Arthur Machen Apparently , there was a legend during World War  I that ghostly archers from the Battle of Agincourt materialized to defend a retreating British army from the forces of the Kaiser on the fields of France.   Arthur Machen here debunks the story, claiming that it derives from his own short story, which was published in a contemporary newspaper.   Arthur Machen The story, reprinted here, may have caused British hearts to swell with pride at the time, but the modern reader cannot be expected to give two shits about it.   It's just a jingoistic little vignette and not a particularly interesting one.   "Angels of Monsa" (Serbian) The same can be said for some similar short “stories” that are published here as well.

The Avengers (2012)

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Director: Joss Whedon Writers: Joss Whedon, Story by Zack Penn and Joss Whedon Stars: Robert Downey, Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston Earth's mightiest heroes--Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.),  the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)--assemble to confront Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his army of extraterrestrials.  "The Avengers" is the big, action-packed film it needed to be, but it also features sparkling dialogue and the efficient characterization required in such an ensemble piece.   This strength is demonstrated in a scene in which the heroes' differences emerge in a heated debate about tactics and motivations; everyone becomes alarmed over how agitated Bruce Banner is becoming, since they know what may result.  This dialogue-driven sequence stands out even among the various face-offs between heroes

Betrayal! (The Avengers #116) (1973)

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  Marvel Events and Crossovers Project Taking a broad historical overview of the Marvel Universe by reading through the major events and crossover events in order. (Thanks to The Marvel Event Timeline at https://comicbookreadingorders.com/marvel/event-timeline/ and Marvel Unlimited) Today, Steve Englehart and Bob Brown continue the standard of excellence that has always marked Marvel’s mightiest, most exciting group—in a new chapter of their cataclysmic clash with the dynamic Defenders! Inker: Mike Esposito Rebuffed from Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, the Avengers conclude that the Sorcerer Supreme and his associates stand against them in their battle to rescue the Black Knight. To make matters worse, Loki appears to them with the tale that the Defenders plan to reassemble the fragments of the Evil Eye for a nefarious purpose. In the grand tradition of Marvel, superheroes are all too quick to believe the worst of each other, seeing the stage for a series of battles. First up is t

Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs (1988)

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by Ted Morgan Ted Morgan has written a detailed biography of the  writer and media personality William S. Burroughs that explores his many contradictions.   Ted Morgan Like so many great biographies, it also serves as a fascinating prism through which to view the times and circumstances that informed his life--the Beat movement of the 50s and 60s.  Burroughs produced highly personal, often violent and even pornographic work that reflected his homosexuality, his drug dependence, and his somewhat addled, magical view of the universe, causing him to be viewed by many as a highly decadent, even demonic figure.  Morgan contrasts this with the actual man, who was quiet and stiffly polite.   One of the most shocking things about him was how conventional his morality was in many ways.  My only familiarity with Burroughs' work is a couple abortive stabs at reading "Naked Lunch" and "The Place of Dead Roads" when I was much too young for them, but I believe that this book

Orphan Train (2013)

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by Christina Baker Kline Seventeen-year-old orphan Molly Ayers is due to  age out of the foster care system when she encounters Vivian Daly, an old lady who turns out to be an orphan herself.   Both have endured difficult placements with undeserving families, and they grow to recognize the similarities in each other's life stories.   "Orphans Train" (Persian) The greater part of the book is taken up by Vivian's story, which was fortunate for me because I didn't care much for the Molly section.   "The Things I Don't Know About You" (Italian) I didn't find Molly's story to be terribly interesting and the trope of the young person learning valuable life lessons from the old person and in return enriching a lonely life felt a little too pat.   "Orphan Trains" (Korean) While Vivian's story held my interest, it was a bit melodramatic, and I felt that I was able to predict what was going to go wrong in each of her failed placements.