Sep 19, 2017

LXG - Review


  The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill



The year is 1898, the Empire is under threat, upon the orders of mysterious "M" Campion Bond recruits Mina Murray and Captain Nemo to find Allan Quatermain who is addicted to opium and lives pathetically in Morocco. Both Nemo and Murray retrieve Allan from the opium den. Then they round up Dr.Henry Jekyll (Mr.Edward Hyde equivalent to Hulk), Hawley Griffin (Invisible man, I liked his part), these five rather six including Jekyll's alter ego Hyde all comprise "The League of Extraordinary Gentleman".


Image from momentofmoore.com


The empire is planning a lunar expedition before the dawn of 19th Century, but the anti gravity material 'cavorite' was stolen by a warlord from orient known by name as Doctor who has established himself as the crime king of London's East End. With Nautilus submarine the league members infiltrate and capture the cavorite and hands it to Campion Bond, but their superior "M' has another plan to bombard East End. Did the league members stop the atrocious act of 'M'? And who is this mysterious "M" are all answered in the remaining panels.
 
The art work is good the panels are explicit with violence and bloodshed. Some might not like the gory parts detailed in such a manner. The story is awesome and entertaining with adding backstories for some characters.

Sep 12, 2017

Cyclops - Book Review

My 10th outing with Dirk Pitt Adventures

Plot 1: March 9th 1918, Caribbean Sea, a collier ship, Cyclops carrying 11,000 tons of manganese, more than it can carry sinks with treasure and a soul, American consul general to Brazil, Alfred L.Morean Gottschalk.

Plot 2: Raymond Le Baron and some of his friends who goes in search of the legendary El Dorado in his blimp Prosperteer goes missing. After a couple of days the blimp passes over Florida where our hero Dirk Pitt is taking part in a race stops the blimp and later the body inside the blimp are not of Raymond Le Baron.

Plot 3 : The President of United States comes to know the fact that there is a Moon base called Jersey Colony developed behind the ruling elite by the Inner core consisting of brilliant young scientists, corporate businessman, engineers and politicians. Raymond Le Baron, General Mark Fisher, Clyde Booth, Irwin Mitchell, Steve Busche, Dean Beagle, Daniel Klein, Leonard Hudson and Gunnar Eriksen are the nine members of the Inner Core. As the Soviet Union sends men to land on moon they come to know about the moon base. And the Soviet plans to take over the Jersey colony. The astronauts in moon base skillfully evades the Soviet attack and tries to return to earth. Then the Soviet plans to abduct the space shuttle and make them land in Cuba. In other words "An American space shuttle in Soviet hands the greatest intelligence coup of the century".

Plot 4 : Taking over of Cuban Government by Soviet Agents, assassinating Fidel Castro and placing a Soviet Union loyalist, close confidante of Fidel a charming charismatic, having total backing of the Cuban military, Alicia Cordero the Secretary of the Central Committee and Secretary of Council of State, the operation is code named 'Rum and Cola' according to the plan Havana has to be blown by three ships which are docked in Havana harbour thereby killing Castro.

The author Clive Cussler brilliantly intertwines all the plots without any confusion and finishes off the book in style. An enjoyable Dirk Pitt adventure.

Whereas our hero Dirk Pitt in search of Raymond Le Baron in the blimp is chased by Cuban and gets caught and interrogated by the Soviet officials in Cuban soil. I think around 30 to 40% of the book Pitt is confined and was tortured by the cruel Foss Gly (the hit man from Night Probe) The most tense part in the story is the clever and brilliant plan of Pitt using an old bathtub and a motor from the deflated boat to escape from Cayo Santa Maria. (My standing ovation to Clive Cussler) Pitt a daring action hero who is unable to perform any action as the situation is very less favourable in Cayo Santa Maria. His best friend Al Giordino badly injured and in confinement, no help from his trusted side kick, as the chapters roll by Pitt situation changes from bad to worse until he gets the chance of getting out of the building. The chapters relating to the torture chamber in Cayo Santa Maria, the author cleverly uses Pitt's wit and sarcastic comments to mask the unpleasant situation.

Did Pitt finds out the treasure from the Cyclops? How did Pitt saves Jessie Le Baron, Al and Rudi Gunn from Cayo Santa Maria, did Pitt take revenge on Foss Gly? Did the Astronauts of Jersey Colony land in Cuba? Did Pitt saves Fidel Castro in time? all these are answered in the following chapters of the novel. 





My artwork for Cyclops novel the blimp named Prosperteer
 
Pitt's humour: (As usual one liners from Dirk Pitt)

1. An old antique like the Prosperteer must have required a couple hundred thousand cubic feet of gas to get her in the air. After a week, enough would have leaked out to keep her grounded. Do you follow?

Victor had the look of a man about to be baptized. What are you suggesting?

That you look for a friendly neighbourhood service station that can pump two hundred thousand cubic feet of helium. (Explaining to Victor that Prosperteer should have been grounded and re pumped with helium before it landed into Florida)
 
2. Find Angello and tell him to show this gentleman out. Pitt's green eyes glinted mischievously. I seem to have a talent for spreading ill will. Do you wish me to go peacefully or cause a nasty scene?

I think peacefully would be best.
(Pitt in Jessie Le Baron's party)

I'll send the chauffeur to pick up. If it's all the same to you.

I'd prefer to drive my own car. I get claustrophobic in limousine. (When Pitt was asked to meet Mrs.Le Baron)


3. Hullo, Dirk. All dressed up and no place to go? 
The party's hostess decided I was persona non Grata and made me walk the plank.

4. Jesus, its dark, he muttered to himself, his mind crawling from a woody mist. Pitt knelt beside him and said. Welcome to the land of the walking dead.

Giordino raised his hands and touched Pitt's face in the darkness. Dirk? In the flesh. (after castaway in the shores of Cayo Santa Maria)

5. I'm President of Central Intelligence Agency. My board of directors and I thought it would be a great promotional idea to charter a blimp and drop redeemable coupons for toilet paper over the length of Cuba. I'm told there's an acute shortage down her. Unfortunately, the Cubans didn't agree with our marketing strategy and shot us down. (Pitt sarcastic and dry humorous reply to Velikov in Cayo Santa Maria torture chamber)

6. How did you destroy the patrol helicopter? Velikov asked suddenly. We threw our shoes at it. Pitt fired back testily. What did you expect from four civilians, one of whom was a woman flying a forty year old gas bag?
(Pitt sarcastic and dry humorous reply to Velikov in Cayo Santa Maria torture chamber)
 
7. Crazy clown – Jessie Le Baron's remark about Pitt.

8. The man must be either indestructible or very lucky – Presidents remark of Pitt, his act of escape from Cuba using a cast iron bath tub with a outboard motor.

9. Brogan said, I hear you've had a rough trip. Not one I'd recommend to tourist. Pitt replied. (makeshift boat - bathtub with motor)

10. Followed a higher law, said Pitt with a sardonic grin. And what law may I ask, is that? Comes from the old West something they called self preservation (answer to Brogan)

11. Pitt flashed his best politician's smile and said. I beg your pardon, may I borrow your phone?

If you work here you know that using an unauthorized phone is against agency regulations.

Then I'm safe, said Pitt. I don't work here. (Pitt conversing with a white hair man in Brogan's office)

12. Quintana subsided into silence. His precisely conceived landing plan began to crack and shatter before his eyes. Our computers should have thought of that, he said bitterly.

They don't create what they are not taught, Pitt replied philosophically (about the attack plan on Cayo Santa Maria)

13. Pitt held up a wooden shaft in one hand. A baseball bat. What do you need that for? You are issued an AK 74.

It's a gift for a friend.

14. You Catholic? Yes. Why?. Then call up the saint who guides lost souls and pray this thing is already set on the shuttle's frequency. (Control room in Cayo Santa Maria when Pitt tries to save the space shuttle before it land in Cuba.)

15. Pitt hesitated, then he said. There is this taxi driver named Herberto Figuero. If I were to find him a restored Fifty Seven Chevrolet in the States and have it shipped, do you suppose you could arrange for him to take delivery. Herberto and I would both be very grateful. (Pitt uses Herberto's Chevy which becomes damaged at the end)

Clive Cussler Liked My Reply

Getting comments and feedbacks for my reviews and replies are always a boost for me. One the first day of my tweet about the books I have gathered (very few compared to the collectors around the world) one of my favourite authors Clive Cussler liked my tweet and I was very happy on that day. 


Couple of hours ago in Twitter "Isaac Bell" @Isaacbell series, another fictional character from the world of Clive Cussler tweeted with a photo (above) and a line "Clive Cussler is sharing his REALlife #adventures.U can FOLLOW  @cusslerOFFICIAL #author #cigars #classiccars #amwriting #writer #ocean #sea" when I looked up at the image the first thing that came to my mind is that Clive Cussler is with his fictional character Dirk Pitt in diving suit. I typed the above line in the comment section and I received the like from the author which I want to share in this blog. Below is the screen shot.


Aug 27, 2017

How to Remove a Brain and Other Bizarre Medical Practices - Book Review

I thank Net galley for providing me a copy to read & review 'How to Remove a Brain and Other Bizarre Medical practices' It is not more than 200 pages and can  be read in one sitting.

The author David Haviland gives us many anecdotes and some fun and bizarre practices in ancient Egypt, India, Europe and US.



 
He also mentioned about the myth relating to Julius Caesar, his birth that he was not born of Caesarean section as it is only performed either to save the  child or the mother. Since Julius Caesar mother died in her ripe age and not during giving birth to Caesar. David Haviland gives examples for Doctrine of  Signatures that natural remedies embodies or reflect the ailments they are designed to cure. That is the appearance of certain fruits resembling our body  parts. 


There are many unknown facts in the book one such is that we share many diseases with animals and they are known as 'zoonoses' we caught common cold from  horses, measles from dogs, influenzas from pigs & ducks, smallpox and tuberculosis from cattle.  Another fact relates to great artists, and how they were affected by using Emerald Green a chemical made from copper acetate and arsenic trioxide. The artist  such as Cezanne, Van Gogh and Monet. All these artists excessively used Emerald Green in their paintings which lead to arsenic poisoning, Cezanne developed  series diabetes, Van Gogh suffered from neurological disorders and third artist Monet got blinded.

 

The cabbies of London have bigger hippo campus region as longer they are driving taxi the bigger the region become. And to compensate the growth the other  part of the brain shrinks. There are many facts, one such is about Syphilis, an epidemic which spread throughout Europe after 1495. Each nation in Europe blamed their enemy. The French  called this disease as Le mal Naples, while the Italians called it the Spanish disease. The Japanese called it as the Chinese disease and while Chinese  people blamed it as Cantonese.

The author has given detailed account on the invention of X ray and aftermath and how one guy in London began marketing X ray proof underwear and made a  small fortune.


 

One chapter is allotted to the Live Typhoid carrier Mary. She was a cook. Everywhere she went and cooked the people in the house get infected with typhoid but  she never had the disease herself. A law was passed and she was isolated from others. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. A must book for information gatherers.

Aug 24, 2017

Jason Cage - Book Review

The main plot of the story revolves around Jason Cage, the only survivor from an accident. He was adopted and his foster parents dies mysteriously. He has no friends no family members and his special quality is that his dreams become reality. Jason has a stint in college where he gets introduced to Bill and Lisa, later being his love, loses her to Bill.


Jason wants to escape from the torments, chooses a monastery in Ladakh. His companion is a lion which is invisible to all. One day he has a nightmare that Lisa is going to be killed in couple of days in US. With no money and help from his monastery friend Jason goes to States. There he helps one Lebanese restaurant owner from mafia and hitch hikes to Lisa.

Did he find Lisa on time and saved her? The ending is cliffhanger.

The author has included many sub plots and he never confuses us as the plots are revealed continously instead of mixed in between main plot. I have to thank him for this method writing, the pace of the book is never slowed or halted since having many sub plots from ancient Egypt, introduction of Dr. Dhrishti from RAW, Axel, taking over of LeT terroists by RAW, Lisa and Bill's story etc.

There are some unanswered questions which hangs after the finish and I know since the end is cliffhanger the author will answer it in the next book.

Aug 17, 2017

Secret Agent - Book Review

I express my gratitude to Net galley for providing me a copy for reading and reviewing of this fantastic treasure trove of information on SOE (Special Operations Executive) brought into force by the then England Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1940, the main aims of SOE is to intent on sabotage and subversion behind enemy lines, to spark revolt, and undermine Hitler's Europe from within, prevent enemy reinforcements reaching the beachhead by road, rail and air, the disruption of enemy signals communications in and behind the battle area, attacks on enemy air personnel and aircraft, the disorganisation of enemy rear services by the spreading of rumours and counter-sabotage.

After explaining in detail about the initiation of SOE from the scratch, the author David Stafford narration of events one by one is super fast and it was like watching a war documentary. The book is full of stories which concentrates mostly on the agents of SOE's activities in occupied Europe.

The agents of SOE were trained in shooting, unarmed combat, handling explosives, wireless-transmission, camouflage and more, they been taught how to face interrogation if get caught.

Not only sending agents for sabotaging they took much care in the dress also, one person who worked in the dress department tells about the alterations needed for German and British dress the seams, the enormous difference between the side seams, the shape of the cuffs, the difference in position of the button hole on the under collar. They also forged documents, money and made new notes to appear as used one.


Lysander, this plane helped for dropping and returning agents of SOE, the additional fuel tank in the bottom resemble a missile carrier (picture courtesy flying legends website)

At the beginning sending of agents into German occupied country was not easy as they were not airdropped, they have to been transported in small boats and ships. As the success rate of SOE increased the expected importance was given.

SOE peaked in size at the time of the D-Day landings when some 10,000 men and 3000 women worked for it around the globe. Of these half the men and perhaps a hundred of the women had also served as secret agents behind enemy lines or in neutral countries.

Some of the activities of SOE's are given much importance such as taking over of one Italian and one German ship in neutral territory, agents of SOE (Knut Haukelid, Fredrick Kayser, Kasper Idland, Hans Storhaug and Brig Stromsheim) coup at the heavy water plant in southern Norway there by delaying progress in German research on the atomic bomb, the operation in destroying the via duct in Gorgopotamos and adventures of the secret agent Pierre Lalande and worth mentioning.

The author has pointed out the mistakes done by SOE in sending messages which were intercepted by the Germans and one full chapter is about the worst mistake of SOE, Englandspiel the name coined by the Germans.

The book is full of heroism, I recommend this to the world war II buffs and also the number of pages is under 300 and can be finished in one sitting.