Monday, May 30, 2016

Thank You St Louis Blues!!!

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So being the avid book lover, Comic book nerd, Husband and Father that I am is just a part of me. I'm also a huge Hockey fan and an even bigger fan of the St Louis Blues. If you are just a fan of books and could care less about sports then by all means, you may skip reading this post. Hockey is one of the things I look forward to all year. Anxious for the next season to start and then once it does I am anxious for the post season. 

Now I was hoping to be writing a different type of post and much latter in June before it posted but here we are. The Game 6 loss to the Sharks was crushing and I almost cried watching the emotional interview with David Backes after the game. There were games we should have won and games that we deserved to loose based on the performance. The who playoff season was such a roller coaster my anxiety really couldn't take it at times. There were games with unfair calls that even the idiots in the NBC commentator box took our side on. Jokes and Memes were everywhere after some of these. We also had games where we played terrible and our passing was a joke so as angry as I was at the loss the Blues deserved the loss.   This last series against the Sharks was so hard to watch. Every loss I would sit there and think, "I just can't do this anymore, I can't keep getting my hopes up". Then I'd go to bed and the next morning the only thing that would matter is the next game. We played Monday night last week for game 5 and I was crushed at the loss but by the next morning all I wanted was for it to be Wednesday so I could put on my Jersey, grab a beer and some snacks and sit with my wife and kids and cheer on my team. My daughter who is 3 wants to wear her "Let's go Blues" shirt everyday. She has one that says Let's Go Blues but then she has a jersey and a t-shirt that just has the note on it. It was really cute.

For the longest time my kids were the only ones that had Blues gear. My wife and I are huge fans but we live paycheck to paycheck and fan memorabilia is expensive so we never had anything. We love going to the games but haven't been in several years because it is just to expensive. This however has never dampened our love for the game or the team. This year when my aunt found out we didn't have t-shirts or anything she bought us t-shirts and for my birthday early she got me a David Backes jersey. It doesn't have the captain C on it but I don't care, Backes is my favorite player and I'm happy to wear his number and cheer on the team.

This playoff season was incredible. Brian Elliott had some incredible saves and was just impressive. Brouwer was well worth the trade for T J Oshe and kept impressing me shot after shot. He had to break past that curse where he only hit goal posts but once he did he had some amazing goals. Like the one Brouwer made hitting the puck out of mid air to score on the rebound. I would love to put the gif from St Louis Tweets. Check it out here though. Robby Fabbri had some great goals to and I was so impressed with him this rookie season. I really could go on and on about all the guys on this team because everyone of them stepped up this year and played their hearts out. I would be remiss if I didn't at least talk about my favorite player David Backes. He has more heart for this team and is the best captain. He was injured in the first period of Game 4 against the Sharks and instead  of going to the locker room and waiting it out, he was on the bench leading his team through the whole game. his emotional interview after game 6 is just proof he loves this team and our city and he felt like he let us down.

So after all of this here is my letter to the Blues. I will make it short because this is one of my logest posts ever and I could easily go on longer.
Dear, Blues 
Thank you for an amazing season and Post Season. Now comes the time to reflect and wait with batted breath about who will be our team next year. I always sit in anxiety waiting to see who stays and who goes at the end of the season and like you I am fearful for some of my favorite players.  As a fan I want you to know that you didn't let us down but renewed our hope. This is the closest we have been to the cup in a long time and it is all due to your hard work. This is the team that will take us to the cup so I hope it can be worked out that we can keep everyone. Hitchcock has been an astounding coach and after last year's uncertain return I hope to see him back next season as well. We have an astounding amount of momentum and I'm fearful it will be lost with another coach or General Manager.  
Thank you so much for all of your hard work and effort. I am a fan for life and truly bleed blue as well as my family. Thank you for giving my wife one of the best birthday presents this year. Her birthday is May 19th and she has never had Hockey for her birthday. This year she was so happy to be able to watch the Blues, have a friend over, get carry out and make a night at home of it. This team brings a city together fans and non fans alike. Not may teams can say that and it is true of the Blues. Rest up in the off season because there is work to be done and a shelf that needs dusting. The cup will be in St Louis next year.  
Thank you,
Chris Brunner
Here is hoping for a great next season and the return of most if not all of our players. I am a Hockey fan and I usually pick a team to root for. This year is tough to pick one. I really don't care for Sydney Crosby and the Penguins don't need another cup win. You never want to root for the team that that beats your, but the Sharks have never been this far in the playoffs and never won a cup either. Yes they are a team half the age of the Blues but everyone loves and Underdog. As I write this the Penguins won 3-2 over the Sharks in game 1. I might not pick a team and jusst see how thiss plays out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Star Wars: The Last Command by Timothy Zahn

The Last Command (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, #3)

I have been anxious to get to this book and see how it ends. I knew that this is cannon to Star Wars so I was kind of hoping to get some hints as to what is going on in the new Star Wars movies. Unless there are some things coming to tie this trilogy in to the new movies I don't think these were even considered in the writing of The Force Awakens. 

Leia has given birth to her twins and C'baoth is still trying to take Luke, Leia, the twins and now Mara Jade to help bring back the Dark Side. Grand Admiral Thrawn is gaining power and ready to drop C'baoth before he really becomes unhinged. Not much changes in the story in this book. It is almost like the first 2 books were all character study. I get in a trilogy you have one over all story but I feel like I didn't need the first two books if this had a little more in the beginning of this. The one change in this book is Mara Jade is starting to waver on her dire need to kill Luke Skywalker. The voice of the Emperor is strong in her head but the Force in her is fighting back. 

Now, there was some time in between my reading of these books so this may be a spoiler but I feel pretty strongly about this piece. You have been warned. I don't know if this was hinted to in the previous books but one of the big events in this book is the fact that we find out that C'baoth and Thrawn are trying to reboot the clone wars. A cloning chamber of the former Emperor's has been re-opened for business. All that build up and they want to rehash Episode 2. The movie wasn't all that great and here we are doing it again. There is an interesting twist on the whole clone thing at the end.

This may have lost my interest a little but it is the characters that I enjoy and the reason I chose to read these. The end of the book was enjoyable but getting there was a little tough to get through at times. I'm glad I read this trilogy but I didn't gain any insight into the new movies as I had hoped. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. Not sure if I will seek out more book in the cannon but it's a possibility. I do want to read the novel adaptation of The Force Awakens. There is always stuff in the books that didn't make it into the movie. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Walking Dead Vol 25: No Turning Back by Robert Kirkman

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So here is your warning up front. If you haven't read this series this review is going to contain spoilers the will spoil previous books. My review, however, will not spoil this book. Let's kick this off right were the last book ended. Rick and the gang are trying to cope with the fact that Alpha and her group severed the heads of several of the Rick's group. Now here is something I didn't think of, the heads were zombie alive. It makes sense that if you don't damage the brain the heads could still be animated without the bodies. Very cleaver of Mr Krikman to think about that and then force those characters to fight their emotions and kill all their friends' heads. 

Another thing I want to mention is that this is a calm before the storm volume. The big action was in the last book and this is the aftermath leading up to more. I mean the next book is called Call to Arms. Sometimes these types of volumes can be dull and seem pointless. This one wasn't at all. There are so many little gems in this book that as a fan of these characters who has spent years with them both on the show and in the comics I really enjoyed the little bits in this book. There a scene with Rick and Negan that was both enjoyable and frustrating. We get an interaction with Andrea and Carl and his new girl friend. Actually there are 2 great scenes with these three that was just great. 

Tensions are running high in this book because all those that have lost love ones, even Eugene, want revenge and blood and they want it now. It is becoming tough for Rick to keep control so that they don't do something stupid. It almost feels like Rick is loosing his leadership hold on the group. What is Rick going to do to get pay back? How is he going to get a hold on the group again and win back their trust? These questions and more are in this book and I would recommend this as a read but you would have to read the whole series first and those that read the series will read this anyway. So let's skip to the rating. 4 out of 5 stars. Well more like 4.5 stars. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben

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I have become a big fan of Harlan Coben's since I read his last few books, The Stranger, Missing you, and Six Years. Needless to say I was really looking forward to this books release and then my turn on the reserve list at my library. 

The premise of this book was really interesting. Maya has suffered the loss of her husband who was murdered in front of her. Trying to be more careful and know what is going on in her home she puts up a Nanny Cam to make sure her daughter is being treated well. When reviewing the video one night she sees her husband come into the room and play with their daughter. Considering she didn't get the camera until after he died this raises a lot of questions. 

There is a good deal of suspense and twists and turns but I felt this one didn't live up to his previous books. This was enjoyable but I didn't care for the ending. The ending wasn't what I was expecting but not the twist I had hoped for. I'm getting a head of myself. The story itself has some predictability to it and I was hoping for more twists and suspense. When it came to the ending I didn't care for how it ended and I wanted more from it.

This book is really hard to talk about without possibly spoiling this. I just came off of a book that had the same kind of premise as this one. The other book had a better plot to it so I think that is part of the reason behind my not caring for this as much as I had hoped I would. Maybe it was the wrong time for this book but I still give this one 3 out of 5 stars. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

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As I said before this is a re-read for me. My wife and I are taking turns reading these books to my 6 year old and he loves them. We always read the book first and then let him watch the movie. This was a long book and it took us quite awhile to get through this. I have to admit that I am really enjoying re-reading these not just because this is quality time my wife and I get with our oldest, but also that it has been quite a few years since I have read these books. I have forgotten a good bit of these books so at times it is like reading it for the first time again. I do love seeing the look on my son's face as he enjoys these for the first time.

So what happens in this book? This book starts off with the Quidditch World Cup which not only starts the chaos that runs through the book but also gives us a small introduction to one of the main characters Victor Krum. While at the match a group of evil wizards known as Death Eaters cause some fear and chaos and light the sky with the dark mark letting the world know Voldemort is gaining in power. Harry and the rest survive this event but not without being blamed for the dark mark's presence. Back at Hogwarts an old tournament is revived to help bring other schools together in this time of increasing dark.

The Triwizard tournament is a collection of 3 challenges done by 3 wizards and the one with the most points wins. In order to figure out just who will be competing between the 3 schools, they use the Goblet of fire. Each student places their name int he cup and it will spit out the 3 best candidates. This time something has gone wrong. Three candidates are chosen but then so is our Mr Potter. Harry is the 4th champion and someone wants him to die in this challenge. Harry now has to figure out what each challenge is, how to survive them, and who wishes him harm. All of this and hints of darkness are growing stronger.

I really like this book because there is so much that happens in this one. This book is really the beginning of the best parts of this series. Still, as much as I like this book the 3rd book Prisoner of Azkaban is my overall favorite. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. This whole series is wonderful and I love every book in this. We have already started book 5 so eventually I will have that review up. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Helblazer Vol 1: Original Sins by Jamie Delano

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Long long ago I took my wife to see the movie Constantine with Keanu Reeves. We were engaged at the time so this was a while ago. I had never heard of who this character was but I knew he was a DC Comics/Vertigo character and it had Keanu Reeves in it and this was right after the whole Matrix thing so I figured this had to be good. I liked the movie so I was interested in the character, just not enough to look for the comics. Then in 2014 NBC put out a TV version that was really good. Sadly in standard NBC fashion, they cancelled it for other brainless reality shows. I really liked the show and was so sad to see it cancelled but this still wasn't enough to get me interested in finding the comic. It wasn't until this season of Arrow that brought John Constantine back to TV that I finally had to find the first volume and find out what I have been missing. 

I wasn't the only one who was looking for this because I had quite a wiat to get this from the library. Reading this book I took a ride to the past enjoying the flat pages and old art work that all books done in the late 80's used to have. What I mean about flat pages is this book was published before they started using the glossy pages. The art work is very dark or faded and no where in between. There are a lot more panels per page in the older books also. There is also a lot more story in the older books. Instead of a comic being mostly pictures with enough words to move the story the older books are more novels with pictures. 

This is like any other graphic novel and it collects several issues in one great book. However, like most graphic novels have one underlying story and this didn't. Each issue was its own story and ended so it was easy to read and issue put this down and come back later. The collection was interesting but just couldn't hold my attention. I had to use all 6 of my renews with the library so it shockingly took me 12 weeks to get through this book. I liked the first story in this book which was about a curse that makes people eat non stop while wasting away to death due to an insatiable hunger. Other stories were just kind of ok. 

So I am going to give this 3 out of 5 stars. If I was judging this as a single novel I would have had to go with 2 stars because Iw as a little let down even with the mindset this is an old comic. First published in 1988 I knew what I was getting into. I just didn't think the writing was all that good and the art work could have been better. Some of the Batman books I have read in the Late 80's early 90's still had amazing scenes even with the dark or faded look. The reason I give this 3 stars is for the character. I still like Constantine, and even though I didn't care for the book. I want to read on and see who the character evolves as time passes. I want to keep going to see if they get better. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Green Lantern Vol 7: Renegade by Robert Venditti

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As I had mentioned in my previous Green Lantern Corps review I missed a volume in the series. The Corps are gone and only Hal is left. Apparently he has been de-ringed and is an outlaw now. Hal Jordan has become the most hated man in several galaxies. Without a ring Hal has stolen a gauntlet from the Corps and is trying to make up for all of the mistakes the Guardians have made as well as try to find the Corps. 

I have to be honest, I am not liking the turn the Green Lantern book are taking. It really pains me to say this but I am anxious for Rebirth to happen already and we can kind of go back to the way things were before New 52 (Possibly). Hal is being chased by bounty hunters, space cops (not the Corps) and other thrill seekers looking to claim they have captured/killed the greatest Green Lantern.

Here is what I  liked about this book. The artwork was solid and kept up with what I would expect from a Green Lantern book. We also get to see a more of a humble side of Hal. He is fine being the hated man that takes the blame for everything. I kind of got the feeling that not only was he stepping up to be the lone Lantern to be the beacon of good, but that he is also service a self imposed pence for all the Guardians have done. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this kind of story or maybe my confusion as to what all was going on due to my not reading Vol 6 caused me to sort of glaze over this but I really didn't feel like this had one dedicated plot line like they usually do. I kind of felt like since we know Rebirth is coming  the writers are just trying to keep something in print till we get there. From what I have heard some of these existing story lines wont matter.

I could go on and on about this book but here is the long and the short of it. I enjoyed this because there was some good action in it and Hal Jordan is one of my favorite characters. If I wasn't such a fan of the series I don't think I would have enjoyed this. The art work was good, the next chapter in character development was entertaining. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Blond Hair, Blue Eyes by Karin Slaughter

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This is a short prequel to Karin Slaughter's newest book Pretty Girls. Now I read this after I read Pretty Girls and I have to say I think it is better read that way. This book follows Julia Carroll who plays a big part in the book. This book follows a 19 year old girl in college who is trying to make an impression on her college newspaper. Currently the big news is the disappearance of a 19 year old girl with Blond hair, like Julia, and Blues Eyes, like Julia. Julia has to try to write an article that is interesting enough for the front page of her college newspaper but her mind is creating the worst case scenario and  not able to focus on the facts.

If you are reading this on its own it was kind of dull. Not a lot happens in the book and the ending is where all the interesting stuff happens to set up the main novel. Reading this after Pretty Girls however allowed me to enjoy this more. I got to know a character who is mostly absent from Pretty Girls. I learned more about her family and what kind of person she is. Had I not read Pretty Girls I don't think I would have enjoyed this short at all. 

If you have this I suggest reading Pretty Girls first and then enjoy the character profile. That is all this really is. No huge plot or suspense like you would expect from a Karin Slaughter story. It is just a great way to meet this character and get to know her. I give this 3 out of 5 stars.