letter 44 vol3Series books of any kind are one of my favorite things to read. I get hooked into the characters’ lives and find myself wondering just what is going to happen to them in the next volume. This is what was happening to me as I sat waiting for Letter 44, Volume 3: Dark Matter to be released for me to read. (I have previously read and reviewed the first two volumes, so check out the reviews of Volume 1 and Volume 2!)

Letter 44, Volume 3: Dark Matter continues investigating into the lives of the astronauts on the Clarke and the people on Earth. At the end of the previous volume, President Blades released the knowledge of the presence of alien life in space to the people of Earth despite being warned of the disastrous consequences this could have for everyone involved. After the release of this information, world war broke out. Countries are battling for control of the planet, most notably a coalition of nations led by the United States and a secret second group that is being controlled by former President Francis Carroll and the barrage of secret weapons he had developed during his term as President.

While this battle for control of the Earth rages on, the crew of the Clarke has been captured and is being held somewhat captive by the aliens that they discovered in space. The only way for them to try to escape is to cooperate fully with their captors, much to the chagrin of some crew members. Left with a ship that has been partially destroyed and having no way to communicate with people back on Earth, they are left to rely on the small tidbits of information they can gather from the aliens. Gaining access to information through somewhat back channels and limited access to the aliens’ own communication devices, the crew learns that a massive threat is heading straight towards Earth, a danger that no one on earth knows about. Communications become a dire need and the crew of the Clarke is forced to use any means necessary to find ways to contact Earth. Massive world war, corrupt politicians, alien life, asteroids heading toward Earth, assassination attempts, and crazy high-tech weaponry make this an incredibly fast-paced read, action-packed, compelling, and gripping. I could not put this book down and am immensely looking forward to the next volume!

midas flesh The Midas Flesh: Volume One is an entertaining journey into the future, where a space crew finds themselves within the orbit of a gold gilded Earth. Flashback to how this whole shindig got started. Do you know the story of King Midas? The Midas Touch? That’s basically the gist of this book with some high-tech space flight and dinosaurs in space suits involved.

In The Midas Flesh: Volume One, one night King Midas got drunk and decided that if he had only one wish, it would be to have everything that he touched turn to gold. Low and behold a thunderbolt slashes out of the heavens and his wish is granted. Flash forward quite a bit and the entire planet Midas was inhabiting has turned to gold, BUT the kicker is that it does not show up on ANY of the space maps nor is it in any of the galaxy records. The Federation has covered up the entire existence of this planet and to prevent others from stealing anything from said planet, they have effectively covered its entire close orbit with satellites, ships, weaponry, etc. to alert them if someone stumbles and finds this place.

Somehow  Joey and her space crew, Fatima and Cooper, have managed to find this planet and are desperately trying to figure out why everything on it is made of gold. They are struggling to do so before the Federation realzies they have found the planet and before a bounty can be placed on their heads for being able to take something off the surface of the planet. Joey’s ultimate goal is to be able to harvest the weapon on this gold planet and somehow reconfigure it to be used against the evil Federation, the group who is tracking them down and the same group who was taking over planets and destroying whole civilizations. This first volume gives readers a good introduction into the Midas legend and also to the forces the crewmembers find themselves up against. If you’re not a fan of graphic novels, and even if you are, I recommend this book as there are few flash backs, the artwork is not overwhelming, and the overall story reads like a linear piece of fiction, but the graphic novel as a whole is still widely appealing. Check it out.

adulthood is a mythSarah Anderson has long been one of my favorite webcomic artists to follow, so when I found out she was putting out a graphic novel called Adulthood is a Myth: A “Sarah’s Scribbles” Collection, I knew this would be something I needed to read. You may not be 100% familiar with Sarah’s Scribbles, but I bet you have probably been shown some of her comics online, whether it be through Facebook, Twitter, a Buzzfeed post, or even on the news. Her black-and-white sketches have become a sort of rallying cry for young adults, as Andersen is able to take everyday situations that can conjure up anxiety, awkwardness, and dread in current adult life and add a completely honest, yet funny, take on them.

Sarah’s Scribbles covers everything from body hair, talking to guys, being a giant introvert, how your body looks, relationships, being self-conscious, and SO MUCH MORE. I constantly found comics that I related to all throughout this book and also on her website where she posts current comics every few days. She has this way of drawing and communicating her comics that immediately make them incredibly relatable, endearing, and immensely hilarious all at the same time. Andersen covers current topics in her comics, while also being sure to cover scenes of everyday life that we all know too well: the frustration of the wifi going down even when it’s a perfectly nice day out and we could go outside or even read a book TO the sheer bliss of being able to tell your past self that things will get better TO the immense stress we all sometimes feel and yet keep covered from everyone in our lives. This graphic novel is relatable for people of all ages and I encourage you to read it for yourself.

all-new captain americaCaptain America is a widely loved and widely known superhero, one who fights for good against evil while decked out in red, white, and blue. The origin story of Captain America is fairly well-known following Steve Rogers’ journey to ultimate patriotic superhero. Movies both starring Cap as the major protagonist and also as a supporting character backing up the Avengers helped bring up his popularity.

What happens when Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, becomes too old to fight? All-New Captain America, Volume 1: Hydra Ascendant follows the story of Sam Wilson, formerly known as Falcon, as he assumes his new role as Captain America. Sam is selected for this role after the original Captain America Steve Rogers is robbed of his strength and vitality, leaving Steve to pick from a pool of viable candidates to find the next Captain America. Sam is chosen. He must learn to hone the skills that he developed as Falcon in order to become the best Captain America he can be, one that has the power to stand up and fight without being weighed down by emotions, revenge, or vendettas.

Cap finds a sidekick in his friend, Nomad. They work together to combat Hydra, only to discover that Hydra has infiltrated every aspect of society around the world. Nomad and Cap must rush to figure out Hydra’s ultimate plan, battle the Sect of the Unknown, and try to combat old villains as Steve Rogers’ band of villainous enemies start coming out of the woodwork to take down the new Cap and join Hydra. Sam and Nomad battle against the new generation members of Hydra, working out their battle techniques and trying to figure out what massive world-dominating plot this far-reaching network of super villains has in store. Once they figure it out, will they be able to stop or will this new band of fighting heroes be relegated to the sidelines as the public clamors for its original superheroes to come back and save the day? This new graphic novel definitely caught my interest and has me wanting to learn more about this new Captain America and his comrades.

Winter is over and the weather is warming! It’s time to get started on the list of projects piling up around the house. Turning disorder into order is at the top of my list for a fun Friday night. But for most people, decluttering the home can be a daunting task. However the truth of  the matter is that a messy house causes stress. According to an online survey conducted by Huffington Post, eighty-seven percent of Americans are worried that their home isn’t clean or organized enough. If this sounds like you, the library has just the right materials to get you started!

Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels: A 31 day love your home challenge . Declutter, organize and decorate. Melissa also has a popular blog: The Inspired Room.

Secrets of an Organized Mom by Barbara Reich: In this book, you will find four easy steps to tackling any organizational project. From cluttered closets to over booked personal obligations, this method can be applied to it all.

Organize for a Fresh Start by Susan Fay West: As life changes, so does your home. Learn how to make your home reflect your current interests while honoring your past too.

Simple Matters by Erin Boyle: This book is all about simplifying your home. A great book for those interested in making do with less. Also beneficial for  those living in small spaces.

The Hands-On Home by Erica Strauss: This book focuses on the the most important room in the house, your kitchen! Maximize your time, energy, and effort with this guide to modern homemaking.

The Complete Book of Home Organization by Toni Hammersley: Purge, sort, and store items to attractively organize your home.

 

Want to Read in eBook?

the life changing magic

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kodo: This NY Times best selling guide to decluttering your home is available in eBook or eAudio Book through Rivershare Overdrive. Kondo boasts that once you organize your home, you will never have to do it again. The KonMari Method takes a room by room or little by little approach to organizing your home.

 

 

unbeatable squirrel girlI’m forever looking for graphic novels beyond the usual scope of muscle-bound, male-centered superheroes out to save the world. With the influx recently of all things Deadpool related and then subsequently all things Batman vs. Superman related, I needed a comic palette cleanser. My dilemma quickly fixed itself when I found copies of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Volume 1, Squirrel Power on the shelves(I’m in the midst of reading volume 2, as volume 1 quickly caught my attention).

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Volume 1, Squirrel Power introduces readers to Squirrel Girl, a very upbeat superhero who just happens to have partial squirrel blood running through her veins. If the thought of having to introduce yourself to yet another new superhero sounds a bit daunting, never fear! Squirrel Girl was actually introduced to the world in 1992 with her current creators paying homage to her previous comic book life by including Marvel Super-Heroes vol. 2 #8 as the very last issue in this trade paperback. Readers are given a look inot how the original creators envisioned Squirrel Girl and are also privy to the previous art styles and drawings of characters like Iron Man and Doctor Doom, since Squirrel Girl is out seeking a partner. Current creators, North and Henderson, are sure to reference back to her origins throughout their new reiteration of Squirrel Girl, talking about her first encounters with Iron Man as she is currently involved in new hijinks.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Volume 1, Squirrel Power follows Doreen Green, Squirrel Girl’s alter-ego, an alter-ego she adapts so that she can become a regular college student. If you’re looking for more background information about Squirrel Girl, she kindly provides that for you within the first few pages of this book by singing her theme song (Wondering what tune it’s sung to? It’s the Spider-Man theme song!) Squirrel Girl has the proportional strength and speed of a squirrel and, of course, the giant squirrel tail that she has to tuck into her pants in order to appear normal. Doreen is trying to balance school, boys, dorm life with her roommate Nancy and Nancy’s cat Mew, battles with super villains, and the fact that she can both talk to squirrels and they can understand her. This first volume is a fun introduction to an incredibly upbeat and dynamic female superhero who is struggling to find her place between two very different worlds.

brass sunDo you enjoy world-building? If you do, then I recommend Brass Sun, a science fiction and steampunk graphic novel by Ian Edginton and I.N.J. Culbard. In this graphic novel, Edginton and Culbard take the world-building idea often present in science fiction and fantasy novels and give it a quite literal translation. Someone actually built the Wheel of Worlds in Brass Sun and after its creation, the creator gave each world a piece of the key that when whole, would allow all of the worlds to reach and restart the sun. Sounds like a solid plan to make sure everyone gets along, right? Not even close.

The Great War broke out amongst all the worlds as some worlds clamored for all the pieces of the key, while others struggled to stay out the way. Hoping to lessen the damage, the tram/train system that connects the worlds is closed off, plunging the worlds into further chaos. After the Great War ends, the surviving inhabitants see their beliefs shift and the surviving knowledge about the Brass Sun and the Wheel of Worlds begins to be twisted.

Now this giant mechanical solar system is dying. It’s failing. The outer worlds are starting to freeze and inhabitants are dying by the millions. Sounds like a pretty cut-and-dry and fairly urgent problem that the governing party would want to solve quickly, right? Nope. INSERT ALL THE CHAOS!

First of all, there are MAJOR disagreements throughout the people in charge regarding who and how the world was created and for what purpose. There is this mysterious religious order who is literally burning people at the stake if they disagree with the common doctrine, ie. if these dissenters say that the cog is failing and the world is slowing down, they’re lying and must die! The Orthodoxy believes if you have faith, there is nothing wrong. There is also a whole class of royalty fighting amongst themselves with their dissent stemming from the aftermath of the Great War. On one of the worlds where ice is encroaching, a young girl named Wren is given a piece of the key by her grandfather and entrusted to save the galaxy. Thrust into this crazy chaos with absolutely no idea how to complete this task, she starts collecting a rather ragtag group of accomplices to help her. The power to save the galaxy rests in her alone though. The art in this graphic novel is stunning, the colors bright with brilliant world creation. The art combined with the elaborate storytelling hooks you in and definitely left me rooting for a positive outcome.

gi joe originsNeed a good old-fashioned American graphic novel about heroes? Look no further than G.I. Joe: Origins Omnibus, Volume 1. This graphic novel has everything you could hope for in a superhero graphic novel, except that the characters are more realistic for kids to hope to become and to look up to. Nobody in this book was born a God with special powers(Heeeyyy Thor and Loki), none were bitten by radioactive spiders(Lookin’ good, Spider-Man), received their powers through some sort of solar flare/energy boost(Fantastic Four), nor do they have tons of money to buy all the fancy equipment they could ever want(Here’s looking at you, Iron Man). The people in the G.I. Joe program mostly all have military backgrounds with the skills and training they received as part of those organizations playing a major role in their initial selection to and their subsequent success in the program.

G.I. Joe: Origins Omnibus, Volume 1 gives readers a much-needed glimpse into the origin stories of various members of the G.I. Joe team. Something I noticed throughout this volume was the level of secrecy that is shown in both the selection of new members to the team and the shadowing of the actual name of their organization. This level of secrecy is necessary for them to maintain once readers see the wide variety of highly dangerous and covert missions they go on.

The origins of the G.I. Joe team came out of the changing and new era of war. New kind of war and fighting means that the good guys need to find a fighting force. The war that the G.I. Joe team finds themselves fighting is not out on the battlefield; it is instead being waged within cities, involving more innocent bystanders and a new breed of villain that is willing to do anything to create havoc. Check out this graphic novel to learn more about each G.I. Joe and to really see how this team came together.

amyOn July 23rd, 2011 Amy Jade Winehouse died in London, England at the age of 27. There were many questions surrounding her death, not just about how she died, but about why she died. The official reports tell us that it was accidental alcohol poisoning, and Amy’s substance abuse problems had been in the news for years. When I heard about Amy’s death, I honestly wasn’t surprised. But I couldn’t help but wonder why this happened to her. Amy’s voice was effortless, pure, powerful and incredibly soulful. She stood five foot two inches and weighed less than a hundred pounds. But her voiced boomed; it was magic. In recent years Amy had won five Grammy’s, tying the all time record for most Grammy’s won on a single night by a female artist. Her success was tremendous. Her reach global. So why?

In July of 2015 Amy, a documentary, was released about Amy Winehouse’s life before and after becoming famous. The film is directed by Asif Kapadia who conducted over 100 interviews with friends and family of Amy. Unseen archive footage and music tracks of and by Winehouse are incorporated in the documentary as well. The film has been a mega success. Currently the film has had 33 award nominations, winning 29 including Best European Documentary and the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Kapadia’s film may not give a definite answer on why Amy’s life ended so soon, but does tell her story and it has told it well.

copperCopper tells the story of an Irish-American boxer turned cop named Kevin Corcoran, who after returning from the Civil War finds his wife missing and his young daughter murdered in their home. Corcoran keeps in contact with two of his soldier friends: the son of a rich industrialist and an African-American physician. These three are linked together by a secret that happened on the battlefireld, one that changed the future of their lives forever.

Right off the bat, Copper is fast-paced and running you through the streets of Five Points, the immigrant neighborhood in New York full of lawlessness, deceit, and murder. Kevin Corcoran, or Corcy as his friends call him, frequently finds himself having to solve the many murders that happen in Five Points. Corcoran never lets a case close without finding the true killer and getting vengeance for the families left behind. The entire time he is solving crimes for the police department, he is also looking for any clues into his wife’s disappearance and his daughter’s murder, asking people in the streets and looking for anyone who saw them before they died.

This television show hits every aspect of tv that I love: romance, murder, mayhem, secrets, espionage, politics, etc. This is 1864, so Copper deals with slavery, Lincoln’s election, spies for the Confederacy and the Union, lynchings, upper and lower class struggles, immigration, murder. Just when I thought I had this show figured out, I realized that the characters had far more depth and far more secrets than I ever realized.