Blogs of things to come!

I have changed my web-page!

I added a tab for my Financial Wise Guide books. As an attorney I have helped thousands of people (and businesses) with their financial problems and have put that knowledge in a series of books. The books (available only through Kindle – so far) include a guide on how to get out of debt and guides on bankruptcy.

Another tab is for my fiction.  So far it only includes my short story “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles”, but I will add others as they are published – also through Kindle.

On October 1st I hope to have two short stories ready for reading: a horror tale and a horror/historical fantasy story. Just in time for Halloween!

December should see a Christmas mystery short story.

More about that as the details develop! But browse my newly-edited web page and tall me what you think!

 

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Abby’s Road Wins New York Book Festival Award!!

 

first family photo

Abby’s Road received Honorable Mention in the Biography/Autobiography category at the 2015 New York Book Festival! 

What an honor to be mentioned in the same list as these wonderful authors:

http://www.newyorkbookfestival.com/

cover

“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.

 

Winner, Honorable Mention, 2015 New York Book Festival  (looks nice, doesn’t it?)


Abby’s Road is available at Amazon here: 
http://www.amazon.com/Abbys-Road-Long-Winding-Adoption/product-reviews/0692221530/ref=cm_cr_pr_top_recent?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending


at Barnes and Noble here: 
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abbys-road-the-long-and-winding-road-to-adoption-and-how-facebook-aquaman-and-theodore-roosevelt-helped-michael-curry/1119971924?ean=9780692221532


and at Smashwords here:
 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/457270

Copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

Wizard World Con 2015

St. Louis Wizard Con 2015: Hey Kids! Comics! Finally!

Wizard Con has held a convention in St. Louis for three years now. I have been to all three and blogged about the 2013 and 2014 cons.

Although at times during this little review it may seem I thought this year was a disappointment, it will probably turn into one of my favorites! And for reasons other than why I enjoyed previous Wizard Cons. Opposite reason!

The first thing I noticed was the lack of vendors’ booths and lack of celebrities attending. The list of attending celebrities definitely lacked the star power of last year – Shatner and Adam West for us old folks and Nathan Fillion, Bruce Campbell and others for the younger crowd.

This year’s list left this old timer shouting out a resounding, “Who!?” People I didn’t know starring in shows I don’t watch. George Romero was the only one on the list that raised my eyebrows. It might be interesting to shake his hand and tell him how much I enjoy his work. But then another part of me wanted to slap him and say, “Look what you’ve done!”, Tara Reid, Elvira, Michael Rooker, Billy Boyd, Hayley Atwell, Jason Mewes,  Naomi Grossman, Joey Lawrence , B.J. Britt, Mark Dodson, Jason David Frank, Robin Lord Taylor,  Paige of the WWE  and a few St. Louis Rams linebackers (which I believe is some sort of local sports team). A few stars who were supposed to be there weren’t – such as Guardians’ Dave Bautista.

Looking at the guests of other Wizard Cons (Indianapolis and Des Moines) show the dearth of stars in St. Louis: Shatner, Billie Dee Williams, Robert Englund & Carrie Fisher to name a few.

(NOTE: if the “dearth” of stars includes your favorite performers … or heaven-forbid the performers themselves or someone they know reads this and thinks of it as a slam – fear not! My heart will grow three sizes this day before the blog is through. Stay with me and let me rant on for a bit longer…)

Lou Ferrigno wasn’t in St. Louis, but will be at Des Moines. Ferrigno! He’s ALWAYS at these things!

               Even the list of artists was disappointing. Indianapolis had Jim Steranko! Steranko! And while St. Louis had Michael Golden and Gary Friedrich … still … Steranko

               Neal Adams wasn’t in St. Louis, but he will be at Des Moines. Neal Adams! He’s ALWAYS at these things!

Was this a Ferguson thing? Did the local St. Louis promoters not treat the guests properly? In all my internet trolling I have not been able to find anyone even guessing why St. Louis got a bit of a short shrift on the guest list. I WAS told there was a major convention in Detroit that weekend – and it was Memorial Day weekend. Was that enough to keep other stars from attending?

And there were only about half the vendors (if that) attending than from previous years. Were they expecting a small crowd? Was it too expensive to attend (I found out the answer was no …).

And the crowd was only about half (if that) from the previous years. It seemed there were more cosplayers than non-cosplayers. Of course that day was the cosplay contests for adults and kids, but still…

But it wasn’t all bleak. In fact, when it was done I realized I had a lot of fun!

Once again I went with my sister and her family. Also attending were one of my best friends and his wife. We met their daughter and son-in-law there, too. We ran into another friend there, too. “I didn’t think you were going to go,” he said.

I didn’t plan on it, to be truthful. But my sister and her husband and two of their sons were going and asked me to join them. My wife said it was fine – she would watch our five-year-old-master-of- all-time-and-space for the day and told me to go enjoy myself.

And I did. Here’s why:

My sister and family helped me see through my solipsistic dislike of the guest list. Sissy was so happy to meet and speak with her idol Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) that she cried when she spoke to her. This made Cassandra cry. “My sister made Elvira cry!” I told anyone willing to listen.

The friend who came with me had an Elvira supplement of a Chill role-playing game for her to sign. She said she must have a copy of this in her house somewhere but otherwise didn’t recognize it!

My family wanted to meet Michael Rooker and have him sign various Walking Dead/Guardians of the Galaxy things. I got in line with them and as I left held out my hand and said how much I enjoyed him in JFK and Tombstone. He shook my hand and thanked me.

My nephew met Jason David Frank, one of the Power Rangers, last year. He showed the star his Tai Kwon Do moves and a video of their meeting was on Frank’s Facebook page and website! He got a picture with Jason and brought that picture back to be signed. Unfortunately he would not be available until 4:00, so we decided it would be our last thing before leaving.

While waiting, at different times of course, Robin Lord Taylor and the quite pretty Naomi Grossman walked past with their entourage. My sister said hello to Robin Lord Taylor and he stopped, very briefly, to thank her. Same with Naomi Grossman.

Both were very friendly and neither of then stood higher than my mid-bicep! Short people, these stars…

While the family was in line for Jason David Frank, I saw actress Tara Reid at her autograph booth. She was between signings and sitting with her aide and I thought, “why not? When am I ever going to meet Tara Reid again?” I walked up to her booth and offered my hand. I said I was a big fan and enjoyed her work. She smiled and shook my hand and said, “Thank you.” I turned away and she resumed her texting. I wasn’t going to buy a picture or pay for an autograph or picture so she certainly wasn’t going to spend a lot of time chatting with me. That’s okay, I don’t blame her. But she was polite about my wanting to meet her and that’s all that matters, isn’t it? I didn’t make any of the stars any money, but I didn’t bug them either. Fair trade. She was also very small, even sitting high up in her booth.  I doubt she would have come up to my elbow standing next to me.

There were two artists I wanted to meet. I talked with Michael Golden for a few minutes as he signed a Star Wars comic I brought and a Marvel print I bought. I told him I had that poster on my college dorm wall. I also told him what I thought of the comic – after that issue the comic had better stories and art than in the issues before. I said it was all his doing. He laughed and thanked me.

I brought a Ghost Rider book for Gary Friedrich, its creator to sign. He was scheduled to appear at Wizard Con in 2013 but had to cancel. He has had health problems. He cancelled this year, too. I was disappointed but not angry – still I could have done without lugging that thick paperback compilation around.

That was my only “meeting of the stars” I did this year.

***

               With fewer vendors, it was easier to take my time in artists’ row. They had local authors this year and I enjoyed talking to them. Who did they use to self-publish? How long have they been doing it? What were their books about? I did not spend too much time talking to them as they were there to hawk their books, not talk shop. But they did in between shilling to the other customers and I thanked them. I might even buy their books!

One author spread his debut science fiction novel into five parts. No one is going to buy a thousand-page book from a first-time author, he said, which is true. We discussed the trend of writing stories in series to bring in fans to your work. I mentioned some authors I’ve met had written a few short stories set in their fantasy worlds and gave them away from free online or as chap books to draw readers into the rest of their line. He liked that idea – maybe we’ll see some short fiction from him soon!

***

               I not only got to chat with authors but also some of the vendors and employees. I asked one local comic shop owner if he knew why the low vendor turn out. He did not know, except for perhaps the Con in Detroit. I asked if the rental space was too high. “No,” he said, “we pay $(blank) for this and we have a pretty big spread.”

“Is that per day?”

“No, the whole weekend.”

“That’s pretty good. You’ll make that back just today.”

“Yep.”

While my family was waiting in line an employee (I will not say who or where in case he gets in trouble for telling me) told me that stars have to give a cut of their autograph and photo op money to the Con. I asked if the guests get paid for attending. Not a lot, although they do get their rooms free. They make their money from the autographs and photo ops – what they don’t give to their Wizard Con overlords. That is why the stars have a few “attendants” the young man told me, “to make sure they don’t pocket the cash for themselves.” That’s another reason some stars need line tickets – not just for crowd control, but to keep a rough account of money made…

Hearing about the dark business side of the Con was almost as fun as hunting for comic books.

Comic books? Oh, yes …

***

               The main difference in this year’s Wizard Con was the focus on the one item that was shoved aside in the previous two years.

This year the comic book convention was about comic books.

With the thinner crowds and less vendors came more opportunities to shop for comics. Perhaps to make the weekend worthwhile, the vendors were more willing to negotiate and barter. Some of them. But I found some beauties and some comics to finally plug some holes in my collection.

I spotted a Superman from the 1970s and he charged me more than I was willing to pay. But he made me such a deal on other comics I bought I accepted it. When I got the comic home and saw was great condition it was I realized what a bargain he gave me.

There were some comics I bought for less than cover price. I can name four that I paid only twice the cover price. The rest of the silver age comics I bought (mostly Green Lantern) were within my purchase comfort zone. Since I did not have to plunk down eighty bucks to shake hands with William Shatner and Adam West, I could spend it on comics I was looking for.

Since the crowds were thinner I was able to get the comics I was looking for and not leftovers.

Since the vendors were fewer I was able to get back to the booths that I found the comics that were still there and that I could afford. In prior years I would try to go back to a booth only to “lose” it. “I think it was by this store …  no … it was by a t-shirt place. Now, which t-shirt place…”

What I mean is that I subscribe to Nihilistic Shopping. I see something I want but then go away to get it later. If I still want the item an hour or more later I will go get it. If the thing is there I will get it; if it is gone it was not meant to be. At a place like Wizard Con that usually means I do not get it – someone else snapped it up. We even joked about that waiting in line to enter the convention hall. “NO! They are all in there buying everything I wanted!”

But this year: more money, thin crowds, and fewer vendors. I was able to find the vendor that had the golden age issue of World’s Finest within my purchasing comfort zone AND it was still there. Ditto the three Green Lanterns at a silver age booth across the convention floor. This guy near the entrance still has those tabloid-size comics.

By the time the family was in line to talk to the Power Ranger my bag was full and my back was aching. Later that weekend I swam with my daughter and spent Monday walking around the St. Louis Renaissance Festival. My back, hips and thighs have not said a kind word to me yet.

Fortunately I have some sweet comics to read while I mend.

***

               You can’t talk about Wizard Con without talking cosplay. Lots of great superheroes and gamers on this day.

Aaron Rabe, who does a pitch-perfect Captain Jack Sparrow, won Best in Show for the first two years of the Con. He was on a panel this year and helped to judge – like Carol O’Connor with the Emmys you get tired of winning all the time. We met him on the convention floor and he asked us the time. He stopped long enough to take his picture with my nephews – one is a huge Captain Jack fan!

As we left we saw this group:

 Princesses

They gave us a card and said they are available for birthday parties and other events. One friend asked for several cards to give to her Girl Scout troop families. I said they will inevitably be doing my daughter’s birthday party as soon as she sees the picture.

My wife hinted that she might go with me next year. She will be less likely to stand and wait for me while I troll the comic boxes if there is a bigger crowd of friends and family there. She can visit or look around the vendor booths herself.

Some of the vendors sold age-appropriate items. For every Walking Dead bobble-head there were Annas and Elsas and Olafs…

Obviously it all depends on our five-year-old Master-of-All-Time-and-Space.

She gets scared during the climactic scenes of Sophia the First. She would be SO excited to see Captain America or Thor or Batman and faint at any Disney Princess. But then she would see a man with an axe through his neck and we will have to go home. I call this picture “this is why I don’t bring Abby to Wizard Con”…

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Although my sister took her son, who is only about two years older; I don’t think mine will be able to handle it. Even my nephew got a little skittish at that clown-puppet.

There were plenty of kids there, though. Some even younger than mine. But as I said last year and the year before; my daughter would freak out too much at some of the more gruesome cosplayers.  Hence why I wanted to slap George Romero…

But we’ll see. Now if you will excuse me, I have some comics to read…

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Copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

 

Pretty good for a Monday! A wonderful review of Abby’s Road!!

frontcover

What a great way to start the week!

Abby’s Road got a wonderful review: you can read it here

or here:

Book Review

Reviewed by Charity Tober for Readers’ Favorite

Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption: And how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped by Michael Curry is much more than just a book with a long and quirky title. The story follows the journey of the author Michael and his wife Esther as they undergo infertility treatments and ultimately adoption in their endearing quest to become parents. Curry is refreshingly honest, descriptive and raw when describing this roller coaster of a time in his family’s life. As you can tell by the book’s title, Curry also has a sense of humor, which he demonstrates throughout the story (so many fun geek and pop culture mentions in this book). The quest to bring Abby home is an endearing and enlightening read to say the least.

Anyone going through infertility, difficulties conceiving or the adoption process will find a kindred spirit in author Michael Curry. And even those who have zero issues adding to their family will find this book informative regarding the real life struggles of other parents. The POV of a male will probably appeal to readers who are expectant or struggling fathers-to-be and I found the light-hearted tone throughout the book enjoyable. I applaud the author for revealing to readers not only the happy times but also the dark and heartbreaking moments that he and his wife endured. The author’s use of quoting his and his wife’s Facebook posts throughout the story was an accurate reflection of the current digital age and added a realistic tone to the book. Highly recommended!

***
Charity is very charitable!  Thank you for the great review from Reader’s Favorite!
***

“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.

 

Winner, Honorable Mention, 2014, Great Midwest Book Festival


Abby’s Road is available at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Abbys-Road-Long-Winding-Adoption/product-reviews/0692221530/ref=cm_cr_pr_top_recent?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending


at Barnes and Noble here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abbys-road-the-long-and-winding-road-to-adoption-and-how-facebook-aquaman-and-theodore-roosevelt-helped-michael-curry/1119971924?ean=9780692221532


and at Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/457270

 

Original Material Copyright 2015 Michael Curry; the review copyright its holder or holders.

Happy Birthday, JRR Tolkien & Isaac Asimov!

A quick blog entry, but of utmost importance!!

Yesterday was Isaac Asimov‘s birthday, today is J.R.R. Tolkien‘s, born 122 years ago. Tolkien created the fantasy genre eventually named after him (although as his book “Children of Turin” shows he still wrote “high” fantasy). My book shelves (other than the Asimov shelf) is lined with books he influenced. Thank you for everything, Professors – both of you – and I mean everything…

What am I writing? An “Abby’s Road” 5th Anniversary Day!

WHAT AM I WRITING? An “Abby’s Road” Anniversary!

The cover of Abby's Road

The cover of Abby’s Road

September and October are big months for our family. And since this year marks the fifth anniversary of most of the events of “Abby’s Road”, celebrate with us as I post the fifth anniversary of book events as they occur! I hope you enjoy the posts over the next month and enjoy reading (or re-reading) it in the book!


Today is the 5th anniversary of the events starting on page 99 of “Abby’s Road…”. 

              “On Tuesday September 8th we received a call from Cary.  Valerie was having stomach pains.

                Def Con 2! Homeland Security Threat Level Mauve! Red Alert! Red Alert! Ah-oooga! Ah-oooga!

                Stop! It’s only the 8th; the baby isn’t due until the 23rd. What gives?

                It is possible, even likely, that Valerie will have the baby early. Why? A secretary told me her theory: I’ll sound like a complete mysogynist but it was her theory, not mine. Let me put this nicely –this is Valerie’s third baby. The trail has already been blazed, so to speak. Abigail will be boldly going where other babies have gone before. The tubing has been loosened a bit. Get it? Whether that has any medical merit I have no idea and I am sure I will be corrected if wrong.

                But we have to be ready in case the baby is born over the weekend. By now we had websites bookmarked and knew exactly what we needed to do. If the baby was born in the next few days we could fly out of St. Louis via Southwest on Saturday the 12th. The cost was fair even at this short notice. We could reserve a car with a baby seat at the airport. We picked an Extended Stay motel in Bethpage – it was nearest the hospital and had a kitchenette and two queen-size beds. For the trip home we could take Amtrak on the weekend of the 20th.  I preferred the New York-Chicago route with a bedroom, but another route – New York-Washington-Chicago was also available. Then the train from Chicago to St. Louis (a five-hour layover).

                We would be home by our wedding anniversary!

                An obstacle appeared that evening when we checked availabilities. I should have realized it would be impossible to make reservations at a motel in New York over a September 11th weekend. Uh-oh.

                Where will we stay until Monday or Tuesday when the weekend is over? In the hospital? Will Valerie and her parents put us up? Doubtful. There’s no point in going until we can secure a place to stay – the baby could be four days to a week old by the time we get there. Will she still be in the hospital? A foster home? Our little girl being held by perfect strangers? Wait, we’re foster parents. Our little girl being held by people like us? I’m going to be sick! Again!

                There were no close friends or relatives anywhere nearby. My Aunt Iris did have some distant cousins in that part of Long Island. If she were still alive our problems would have been solved. “I have a cousin still living there. You’re going to stay with his son’s family in the pool house.”  At the airport we’d have been met by a small shivering man holding a sign saying “Curry”.

                “We thank you for your hospitality,” we would say, “but you don’t have to put us up, we can get a motel room.”

                “No, stay with us. You don’t understand. Do you know what will happen to me, to all of us, if Iris finds out you stayed in a motel? Oy vey iz mir …”


Luckily, we learned it was a false alarm before we could head to the Big Apple. We would not be so lucky in the next few weeks!

***


“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.


Abby’s Road is available at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Abbys-Road-Long-Winding-Adoption/product-reviews/0692221530/ref=cm_cr_pr_top_recent?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending


at Barnes and Noble here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abbys-road-the-long-and-winding-road-to-adoption-and-how-facebook-aquaman-and-theodore-roosevelt-helped-michael-curry/1119971924?ean=9780692221532


and at Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/457270

Copyright 2014 Michael Curry

 

What Am I Reading? The Last Witch of Cahokia

What Am I Reading? The Last Witch of Cahokia

 LastWitch_front-Cover2-160x225

            The Last Witch of Cahokia (ISBN 9780979473746 Redoubt Books/Bluebird Publishing 2013) by Raymond Scott Edge concludes the trilogy of books beginning with Flight of the Piasa (“Flight”) and continuing with Witches of Cahokia (“Witches”).

            Here are the blogs for the previous two novels:

            You can read my review of Flight of the Piasa here: https://michaelgcurry.com/2014/07/03/what-am-i-reading-flight-of-the-piasa-by-raymond-edge/

            And my review of Witches of Cahokia here:

https://michaelgcurry.com/2014/08/02/what-am-i-reading-witches-of-cahokia/

            It is possible to read all three books alone, but this last book is really based on the events of the second. The first book is complete. The second is also complete, although the story of Snow Pine may confuse you if you do not read the first. But Last Witch (as I will refer to the third book in this little review) is based on the events of the second book: it will be difficult to read alone – although it also tells a complete tale.

            Four tales, in fact. It picks up in the days and weeks of Cahokia in all of its threads.

            1) Daniel French and his conflict with the Illini Confederation of the twenty seven female pre-Columbian skeletons.

            2) Josh Green’s “revenge” against the professors and university that wronged him,

            3) Fred Eldridge’s trip to China to examine an ancient Native American buffalo hide, and

            4) Shen Fu’s journal of meeting Wind Sage and their return to China in the early to mid-fifteenth century.

SPOILERS AHEAD

            We meet for the third time the family and friends of Daniel French. He has two problems – the first problem was introduced in Witches – the Illini Confederation demands the immediate reburial of the twenty-seven female bodies found near Cahokia Mounds.

            Daniel has meetings and discussions with the Illini Confederation and his Provost. This is a good and canny way of bringing in an Info Dump. “As you know, Bob, NAGPRA was passed in 1990 and it provides …” Subjects ranging from digs at Native American burial sites to the Mormon religion is discussed this way. The previous books had their info dumps as well, some awkward – discussing archaeological terms with fellow archaeologists – but the author whimsically gets around the awkwardness with an aside such as, “…ask a professor a simple question and you get a lecture.” A good way to get around a writer’s unavoidable conundrum.

            Daniels’ other problems deals with a mysterious character knows only as Ghost Dancer. Well, the readers know he is Josh Green, but the characters do not. Josh dug up the remains of Elijah Parish Lovejoy.

            As you know, Bob, Elijah Lovejoy was an abolitionist journalist who was killed by a pro-slavery mob in 1837, making him a martyr to the cause. See what I mean by unavoidable? His gravemarker is a nice historical site in Alton and many a speech and many a political announcements have been made there in the past nearly-two centuries. Josh sets up photo ops of the remains at various Native American massacre sites in the west and mid-west – as if he had stolen a garden gnome. He photographs the bones and mails the postcards to Daniel and the press.

            This is the “revenge” of which I speak. We follow Josh across the country in his ghoulish protest. Eventually he meets and befriends a Lakota family – Margaret, her brothers Peter, James and John and their father Poker Joe. Margaret helps Josh dry out and help redeem him. He goes through the ceremony to marry Margaret (who is excellently written as a strong and independent woman), become a member of the Lakota people, returns the Lovejoy remains, and takes up the argument against archaeological study of Native American remains.

            Throughout the book (and even on the back cover) was the mantra: “If I dug up your great-great-grandfather that would be sacrifice. If you dug up mine, that would be science, How can that be right?” the issue is discussed thoroughly through the book – particular at its end.

            The premise of course, couldn’t be further from wrong. Our European ancestors are frequently dug up and examined:

            Earlier this year ten skeletons from the Viking era were excavated in Flakstad, an island in the Norwegian Sea – some intact, some without heads – thought to be owners buried with slaves based on their diets revealed through isotope analysis.

            Also, eight graves were excavated dating from the early twelfth century in Brandenburg, Germany after being initially dug up by badgers.

            In 2008 a Templar Knight was found buried in an underground tomb near Rennes-le-Chateau in France. Did the Masons demand immediate reburial?

            The body of Sir Hugh Despenser the Younger was excavated at Hulton Abbey in Staffs, England – he is believed to be the lover of King Edward the First – hence his mutilated state.

            Then there was the news of finding King Richard III’s body under a car parking lot in early 2013. Did the royal family demand his immediate reburial?

            The point of Native Americans is that the European excavations are not put on display in museums and gift shops or held by private collectors. True – they bodies are or will be reinterred and given the respect due. Therein lay the difference, I think.

            But it brings up a point that was nagging me while reading the debate: Josh/Joseph’s stand is no different than his anarchic beliefs with the CRA – now he has an adopted family of Native Americans and the public opinion of guilty white folks to back him up. He is trying to accomplish the goals of the CRA but now through the sheen of respectability and precedent.  I didn’t buy it.

            But the author is to be commended for causing that reaction out of this reader – not condemned. This isn’t a mistake or an error on his part. To make me react this way to a fictitious character in a fictitious setting is the goal of every good writer.

            So what is the solution? The book provides one and, wisely, the solution is presented by Josh-Joseph. Thus expunging his earlier villainy in the eyes of the reader. Well, I’m with Daniel on this one; I still don’t trust him…

            In China, Fred and Marge Eldridge befriend Ben Wang, his wife Ah Cy and their daughter. Fred (and we) learns of Chinese culture as he examines the buffalo hide telling the tale of the White Buffalo Calf Women from Witches. The Cult of Ku, the bringing and cultivating of corn and the Viking rape – all events we the readers are aware from the prior book – are reviewed and examined with skepticism by Eldridge. Again Eldridge is brought to life and is a three-dimensional character as opposed to the nay-saying curmudgeon of Flight. Fred helps Ben and Ah when Ah becomes pregnant with their second child – verbotten in China – and his solution is written well. “Human rights” is the topic of discussion in these parts of the novel. What happens when my “pursuit of happiness” conflicts with others? What if there is no creator? Or there is a conflict as to who the creator is? How can these truths be self-evident if they have NOT been endowed?

            In a coincidence that only happens in novels, Fred is contacted by the same man who gave Daniel the transcript that made up the bulk of Flight – that told the tale of Sun and Snow Pine and their voyage to America and, eventually, to the cliffs of the Mississippi where the Piasa is painted.  This time he has a manuscript telling the tale of the Last Witch of Cahokia as told by a scholar names Shen Fu who travels with Admiral Zhu Wen, whom we met near the end of Witches. The last witch, who was unnamed save she was called She-Who-Waits, is given the name Wind Sage and travels with them back to China with the buffalo hide and Sun Kai’s manuscript in tow.

            It is tempting to parallel this part of the novel with Flight, but Shen Fu’s manuscript takes up only about 30+ pages of the book’s 244. It brings a nice conclusion to the witch’s line and it is fun reading Eldridge’s reaction to the manuscript. Comparing his skepticism with Daniel’s acceptance of Sun Kai’s manuscript in Flight is fun. Many times in Flight, Eldridge said to throw it out, it was fake, no one at the time wrote like that, etc. But here he was just as enthralled as Daniel with his manuscript – he asked about the historical events of the manuscript – even visited the village/city Shen Fu and Wind Sage lived. Stood on the Great Wall as they did and where they did. The writer did a good job showing the shoe on this particular foot.

END OF SPOILERS

            Last Witch pours a lot of information and brings up moral questions absent from the first two books. Between the info dumps and the morality discussions and, literally, lectures we are provided with enough information to take sides on the issues and be firm in our convictions. But we also find ourselves cheering on the peacemakers and hope they can find enough common ground to provide a reasonable solution – and hope we can do so in real life too.

            It is a novel of redemption and forgiveness and puts us in the middle of the debate between the search for knowledge versus respect for a culture’s beliefs.

            The author avoids the usual traps in books such as these – bad allegories, awkward info dumps, etc. Such things make a book preachy rather than entertaining. Witch is not preachy and VERY entertaining. I cared what happened to the characters – I hated to put it down at the end of a chapter during bedtime!

            The info dumps here are well done, although at times repetitive – the fact that the Cahokia Mound people have no known direct descendents and the Illini moved into the area centuries later is now etched in my brain.

            But that is a minor complaint – I loved all three books and will return to them in years to come. All three are quick and enjoyable reads.

            I hate to be petty, but there is one typo repeated from Flight in Witch … it’s “Shaggy” from “Scooby Doo” not “Scruffy” from “Scooby Do”. Although it‘s nit-picking, to a couch-potato boomer like me it might as well be in red type!

            Please don’t let things like that stop your enjoyment of these books. It didn’t stop me.

            Last Witch is still a Redoubt Book but published through Bluebird Publishing. My copies of the first two books were not so published. Thus the typeset and interiors of Last Witch is different from the first two. It certainly does not affect the readability of the story, but the difference is notable.

            Check the author’s website for his blog entries regarding his trip to China here: http://www.redoubtbooks.com/Author_s_Notebook.html

            Support independent authors! Support local authors! Read their books! Tell others to read their books! Post positive comments online if you enjoy it! Please?

 

Michael Curry