Saturday, June 22, 2013

House of Heroes Concert

Yesterday we picked Lexi up from church camp, "Princess Camp" edition.  She learned a lot about how much God loves her, how she needs to choose a "prince" (Jesus or Satan), why to dress modestly (boys fill in the picture, gasp!), and other valuable lessons about being a daughter of God.  She had a blast.

We also took the kids to a free concert on the way home, headlined by House of Heroes.  They are Christian guys with several albums out, and they rock.  Lexi in particular enjoys their music.  The concert was in a small lodge in a park in Anderson. After a cool opening act, Curt Anderson, we heard Come Wind.  They really weren't very good, some kind of experimental prog-rock, sung mostly in falsetto.  Also, they didn't have much interaction with the audience. 

Finally, House of Heroes came on.  They played for about an hour and a half.  They mostly played songs from their new B-Side album, which included a cover of "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da" by the Beatles (they did a good job).  They also played some from several of their other albums, including one of my favorites "Remember the Empire".  Check out the video below.  The twins were asleep with about 20-30 minutes left in the show; I'm not sure how, as it was so loud we needed ear plugs.

We enjoyed the show and are glad to have Lexi home.  Now we are gearing up for VBS next week.  Oh, and Griffin went to basketball camp last week as well.  It was fun watching him improve his skills.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Comeback by Ed Brisson and Michael Walsh - Book Review

From the publisher:  Reconnect agents Mark and Seth go back in time to save people from their untimely demise — for a fee.

But, when a rescue mission goes awry, both agents find themselves trapped in the past and on the run from both the FBI, who want to jail them, and their own employers who want to kill them to protect their own dark and deadly secrets. 

Comeback, by Ed Brisson, is a pretty cool story.  It is reminiscent of the movie Looper, in that it involves an illegal time-traveling group that uses the technology for monetary gain.

Mark and Seth are agents for Reconnect, a company who will save your loved one from an untimely death for a large sum of money.  To do that, they utilize time-travel.  They also seem limited to using it only within a certain amount of days from the death (that part is never fully explained).  When their latest rescue starts to go sideways, Seth runs into a future version of himself, who tells the younger version what Reconnect is really up to.  Simultaneously, the reader discovers that the FBI has a time-travel department, which is investigating several anomalies created by Reconnect.  In the course of the investigation, the agents run in to Mark, Seth, and Seth.  What follows is a highly entertaining thriller/mystery/noir story that shows the "consequences" of messing with the time-stream.  The time-travel rules are very consistent and there are several cool examples of how the paradoxes created by traveling through time can affect those doing the traveling.

The character development is slight, as the focus is on the twisting and turning plot. However, the characters of Seth, Mark, and Owen provide enough interesting interactions to interest the reader.

The art, by Michael Walsh, is very spare, which adds to the pulpy feel of the story.

I was very entertained by Comeback, and couldn't help but picture it as a movie, much like the previously mentioned Looper.  If you are a fan of noir, pulp, sci-fi, thrillers, or some combination of those, you'll really enjoy this book.

I received a review copy of this book from Netgalley and Image Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Softball Season Ends

The softball season for both girls came to an end this week.  Cami wrapped up her season playing pitcher's helper.  She hit off the tee a couple of times.  She had a great time and really improved a bunch, playing with confidence.

Lexi's team lost in the semi-final game of their tournament.  Lexi got another solid hit and fielded a couple of balls over the last week.  She even took some swings against the other team's pitchers (she usually tried to take four balls, which resulted in getting two pitches from her coach).  She showed a lot of progress this season.

Now we're down to play practice for The Wizard of Oz in the middle of July.  Then Griffin starts football and the girls start cheerleading.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Bat by Jo Nesbo - Book Review

From the publisher: The electrifying first appearance of Jo Nesbø’s detective, Harry Hole.
Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad is dispatched to Sydney to observe a murder case.  Harry is free to offer assistance, but he has firm instructions to stay out of trouble. The victim is a twenty-three year old Norwegian woman who is a minor celebrity back home. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Harry befriends one of the lead detectives, and one of the witnesses, as he is drawn deeper into the case.  Together, they discover that this is only the latest in a string of unsolved murders, and the pattern points toward a psychopath working his way across the country. As they circle closer and closer to the killer, Harry begins to fear that no one is safe, least of all those investigating the case. 

The Bat is was my introduction to Jo Nesbo and his series detective Harry Hole.  I'd heard some good things about the series, and having read the Wallendar series by Henning Mankell, I fully expected another excellent, bleak and moody Scandinavian mystery.  I was only partially right.

The Bat, even though it is written by a Norwegian author and stars a Norwegian police detective, takes place in Australia (mostly in Sydney). I hadn't realized this was the setting, and I found it an interesting place to start a series.  That did away with the bleakness I was expecting.  However, The Bat was both moody and excellent.

Harry Hole is a fascinating character, and in the vein of Harry Bosch, he is ripe for further development.  There are layers to the character that are slowly revealed, deepening the intrigue and adding to the mystery.  And like all great protagonists, Harry Hole is a flawed individual; he is a recovering alcoholic, amongst other personal problems.

The mystery is involving, with many twists and turns.  Harry and his Australian "partner", Andrew Kensington (an Aborigine), track every lead and run across many colorful people in their investigation of the murdered girl.  A cross-dressing clown, an Aborigine boxer, a drug-dealer, a homeless man, and a beautiful Swede (whom Harry falls for) are among the strong supporting cast.  Interspersed with the investigation are tidbits about Australia's complicated social history, which add to the atmosphere.

Finally, Nesbo's writing style was quick and crisp. There were never any large info-dumps, and the chapters moved quickly.  The dialogue was sharp and believable.

I really enjoyed this novel and will definitely be picking up other books in this series. Like Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series, the mysteries run a close second to discovering more of the unfolding life of Harry Hole. I highly recommend this book to mystery lovers.

I received a review copy of this book from Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

School's Out (and Softball)

The kids finished up their school year last Friday.  It's hard to believe Lexi will be a 4th grader and the twins will be in 1st grade.  They had a good year.  I'm especially impressed with the fact that Cami and Griffin can both read simple books now.  They know some words by sight, but are doing really well sounding out words they don't know.

In softball news, due to weather, holidays, and our varsity team in semi-state, each of the girls has only had one game in the last two weeks.  Cami had one solid hit and played first base, fielding a couple of balls.  Lexi also had a hit, and made it to third before the end of the inning.  Cami has 1 or 2 more games, and Lexi has 1 plus the tournament.