CARTER BEATS THE DEVIL by Glen David Gold starts well as magician Charles Carter (a fictionalized version of a real conjurer) apparently murders President Harding during a show, following which we flashback to Carter’s life story, showing how he rose to vaudeville glory in spite of a star magician’s determination to kill Carter’s career. Unfortunately after a tragic twist about a quarter in, the book turns into an ambling mess: Carter drifts aimlessly, falls for a blind girl, helps Philo Farnsworth develop his concept for television and ducks Secret Service agents out to avenge Harding’s death (the sequence where they throw Carter, bound and bagged into a river, is quite a nail-biter). I lost interest (the 600-page length didn’t help).
TOTAL CAT MOJO: The Ultimate Guide to Life With Your Cat by YouTube cat guru Jackson Galaxy argues that the key to having a happy cat is making them confident that your home is their territory, while discouraging occasional problems such as knocked-over tchotchkes (“Museum putty is good.”) or cats jumping on the cooking surfaces. Like Catwise, a lot of this was inapplicable or impractical — at this point there’s no point to giving Wisp a private room, even if I could move her into one — but certainly a lot of food for thought (where can I put a litterbox the dogs won’t be digging in it to eat her poop?).
THE WEDDING DATE by Jasmine Guillory has a handsome doctor recruit a sexy city official he’s just met to be his date at his ex’s wedding (his planned date canceled); needless to say they both decide they’d like the girlfriend fantasy to become real, leading to a series of long-distance dates, sex, banter and meeting each others’ circle of friends. The kickoff to the book was fun, but after that the dates get repetitious fast, with the big conflict (both leads are commitment-phobic) not kicking in until almost the end. Not a winner.
SHURI: Vibranium 24/7 by Nnedi Okorafor, Vita Ayala, Paul Davidson and Rachael Stott was a pleasant surprise, departing from the political stories that have been T’Challa’s bread and butter since Don McGregor’s Bronze Age Black Panther. Instead we get a wild SF adventure involving a music-loving alien bug (the title comes from a Wakandan song it’s constantly imitating), Storm, Shuri, the Miles Morales Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, and Wakandan ancestral memory. Immensely entertaining, except for the alien bug, Lubber — it’s fondness for music made me think of the Glop from late Silver Age Wonder Woman and I do not mean that as a compliment. That’s the only flaw in an otherwise excellent TPB though.
#SFWApro. Photo is mine.