Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon by Richard Roberts

I definitely like this series.  I read the second, Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon, by Richard Roberts, right after I posted the review for the first.  I stayed up pretty late reading it, so I shouldn't have woken up as early as I did.

This book finds Penny and her friends, The Inscrutable Machine (an awesome name for a villain team) end up going to Jupiter and its moons to figure out the source of a signal picked up by one of the villains they meet in the first book.  There they meet an interesting cast of characters.  Somehow, a group of humans ended up being brought out to colonize some of the moons of Jupiter.  The new humans in the story are joined by a group of Automoton, who control the humans' lives, and also by a species of alien that takes over the humans by infecting them like parasites.  Penny still wants to become a hero, rather than a villain, but it seems everything she does works in such a way that she still appears to be a villain.

As I said, I really am getting a kick out of this series.  The main character the friends interact with in this book is a nicely flawed, fellow mad scientist.  Remmy has two brothers with differing ideas of how to save the other Jovian colonists from the robots and the parasites.  They're both older brothers who think of Remmy as a pesky younger sibling.  Remmy has a story arc I hope Roberts revisits in later books.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm A Supervillain by Richard Roberts

I ended up reading Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain by Richard Roberts because I got the third one in the series as a free read for review from Netgalley and the third refers to enough things that happen in this one and the second that I want to read them first.  I really liked it.  I'm going to be buying this series in paper.

Penny is the daughter of two superheroes.  She has always hoped she'll get her own powers.  Well, she does.  Slight hiccup being that her powers seem to lend themselves better to being a supervillain than a hero.  This first book finds her and her two best friends sort of falling into the villain thing by accident.  Basically, one of her friends loses his temper and pulls a "Hulk-Smash" which is actually a trap by a superhero's sidekick.  To get him out of trouble, she has to fight the sidekick and gets branded a villain.  Things go south from there.

The characters are nicely fleshed out, including the parents, amazingly enough.  Most parents in YA novels are there for decoration and the occasional grounding.  Penny truly loves her parents and doesn't pull the "oh woe is me, my parents don't understand me" bullshit.  It's nice seeing a YA family that actually has that love all around.

The descriptions of the inventions she makes and the world she lives in are a lot of fun.  There are enough superhero tropes being used well and in a fresh manner and enough to remind you that these are, indeed, kids learning how to run in an adult world that it makes the book very interesting.  For example, when meeting the strongest supervillain alive, even if he's retired, Claire wants his autograph.  This is a world that celebrates the superhero genre and enjoys its place in it.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Genealogy Fun and Frustration

I've been doing a lot of genealogy research recently.  I signed up for Ancestry again after finally getting a computer that can actually handle research again.  I've been rebuilding the trees I had.  Unfortunately, the gedcoms didn't survive the virus that hit the last computer and I guess the back-ups I did must have saved the corrupted files.

Amazingly, I've found the birthplace in England of the ancestress who came here only a year after she was born.  We knew she had been born in England, but I wasn't expecting to find her maternal grandparents in the same place.  Even better, her grandfather was listed in the 1851 census as a blind pauper.  I wonder how they survived?  Did my ancestress' father have to support five people; his wife and daughter, plus his wife's elderly parents, for they were in their 60s when the census was taken?  Is that why he packed up and left England?  He and the others had already left Ireland, presumably to find work.  What happened to his in-laws?  Did they come with their daughter, her husband, and granddaughter?  I haven't found any of their ship records yet.  Wading through all the common Irish names is a pure pain in the ass.  But I refuse to give up.  I will find those stubborn Irish yet.

I found a page that people have listed their genealogy frustrations.  It's fun to read.

Return of the Grr by Alannah Blacke

This was a shape-shifter romance anthology by Alannah Blacke.  Four stories pleased me.  The others ran the gamut from meh to ugh.

Pride is a story about a lion shifter who goes to Africa to get away from his stresses for a while, finding love while he does.

Alpha Black is about a bear shifter called upon to protect a non-shifter from an old girlfriend of his.

Mine to Bear is another bear shifter story.  This one features a character from an earlier story falling in love with a woman who had been kidnapped and held as a sex slave by a den of werewolves.

The last story I liked was a leopard shifter story contained in the three stories: Look Before You Leopard, Better Late Than Leopard, and A Leopard is Forever.

Honestly, I really didn't like the others that much.  Actually, I really disliked the MMCs in Bear In Mind and Bear Down.  They were quite despicable.  Maybe if the stories had been longer, they could have been redeemable.  As it was, there wasn't enough story for the character development needed for them to become lovable characters.

Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso by Kali Nicole Gross

This was an interesting book by Kali Nicole Gross, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin.  It seemed like it would be a juicy, gory depiction of a gruesome murder, but it really ended up being a dissection of race and politics at the turn of the century in Philadelphia.  The author brings up interesting points about our assumptions of black womanhood and how those assumptions have been shaped by slavery, and Emancipation.  Those attitudes still remain if you really think about it.  That's not to say the author touched on this, instead, her focus was on Tabbs and her ability to manipulate the system and society she found herself in.

The only thing I didn't like was that the book wasn't able to follow Tabbs and Wilson further in their lives, both before and after the trial, but that is due to the limitations of the historical records available.  That limitation actually seems to prove the author's thesis, that Tabbs' place in history rests in her interactions with the white press and legal authorities, not her own agency.  We are also so used to the paper trails and random information that we leave behind in our daily lives that it seems almost impossible that we wouldn't know more about someone accused of murders nowadays.  In a way this makes the book even more intriguing for that fact that there are so many unknowns remaining.  We are, frankly, spoiled when it comes to biographies and histories in that the subjects tend to be those with a wealth of information and resources behind them.  I'm glad there are authors who try to find obscure history topics and breathe new life into them.