Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Looking Back on October

As I drove home from work tonight, I caught a glimpse of children dressed in a variety of costumes, from the scary to the innocent--all adorable. Halloween is a day when children can dress up and be just about anybody or anything they want to be. In some ways, I do the very same thing when I open a book. I like to step inside the books I read where suddenly I am just about anyone I want to be for those few hours I spend within the pages. Looking back at what I've been up to in the world of books this month, I can proudly say that I had a lot of fun on my many adventures.

In an effort to solve a murder, I hobnobbed with the Hollywood crowd amidst a growing cloud of suspicion from the Committee of Un-American Activities. In a touching experience, I looked on as a grieving mother trying to move on and a man whose life has been turned upside down by memory lapses and seizures share a connection neither imagined possible. My next adventure took me from a lake in Texas to the wilds of Texas and into the hectic New York City, as I fled for my life from the Russian mafia and corporate goons. I settled down for a rest in the South, laughing and crying as I learned the stories about life in a small Alabama town and its many residents. I traveled to Europe through time and space, seeking out the mysteries of the most famous vampire of all, and what glorious adventures I had! My final adventure this month took me to Florida where I joined up with an obsessive compulsive witty attorney whose latest case involved the investigation into the murder of her client who was being sued for libeling oranges.

I cannot wait to see what next month has in store for me!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Review of Bone Valley by Claire Matturro

2006, William Morrow (ARC)
316 pgs
Rating: * (Good)

First Sentence: The practice of law is best performed by lunatics.

Reason for Reading: I was selected to preview this book through Harper Collins First Look Program. It sounded like it would be a fun mystery to read.

Comments: Bone Valley is the third in Claire Matturro’s witty and fun-slinging mystery series. I have not had the opportunity yet to read the two previous books, but Bone Valley was a great introduction to a series that is bound to bring out lots of laughs.

Lilly Cleary is not only a trial attorney who longs for a big malpractice case, she’s also obsessive compulsive when it comes to cleanliness and the food she eats. Lilly is the type of character who lands herself in difficult situations frequently, and in Bone Valley, there are plenty of those. She’s got a great deal of company amidst a cast of colorful characters, including her elderly neighbor who “stole” Lilly’s dog, the alcoholic poetry-loving handyman, her maybe fiancé Philip, her hippie brother Devlon, and her motherly secretary Bonita, just to name a few. There is also one of my favorite characters, Lenora, who takes in animals and birds of all sorts and nurses them back to health.

In Bone Valley, Lilly gets more than she bargained for when she agrees to defend two environmentalists, Angus and Miguel, in a libel suit. The two men are accused of defaming oranges, Florida’s main money crop. The situation grows complicated when one of her clients is blown up as she looks on. The stakes are suddenly higher and Lilly is not the kind of woman to back down from getting to the truth.

Bone Valley is a laugh out loud novel that was impossible to put down. The main character, Lily, is witty and charming, even with her quirks and penchant for getting to the truth no matter what. Claire Matturro takes on some serious environmental issues, softening them with humor. I will definitely be seeking out other books by this author.

Favorite Part: Carrots certainly are good for more than just one thing.

Miscellaneous: My husband had to undergo a root canal recently and seems to be recovering well from that. It brought back memories of my own root canal last year. Not an experience either one of us hopes to have often.

This past week, we went to the theater to see The Departed starring several big name actors. Both my husband and I really enjoyed the move. On DVD this weekend, we watched Thank You for Smoking and Lucky Number Slevin.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Review of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

2005, Back Bay Books
676 pgs
Fiction (Fantasy/Historical)
Rating: * (Outstanding)

First Sentence: The story that follows is one I never intended to commit to paper.

Reason for Reading: The premise of the novel intrigued me from the very first time I heard about it. I knew that this was a book I needed to read. I put off reading it until the mood was right—and because I wanted to first read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which I had been told would provide a little background.

Comments: As is already known, reading is a passion of mine. I enjoy a good story, stepping into the lives of the characters, visiting familiar or completely unknown places, traveling through time, and taking in experiences through the written word that I most likely will never experience in my own lifetime. Through books, my mind and heart are opened to new knowledge and perspectives, whether in fiction or fact. So far this year, I have had the privilege of reading many wonderful books, books that I finished and thought, “Wow!” And then I come across a book like Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. A simple “wow” does not do the novel justice. I am not even sure a triple “wow” would cover how I felt reading this book.

Elizabeth Kostova has taken a popular myth, that of Dracula, and added new life to an old story. The Historian is the story of a young woman’s discovery of a dark family secret, told through her voice as well as that of her father’s and his own letters and that of friends. It begins when our sixteen-year-old narrator finds a mysterious book hidden on the top shelf in her father’s study. Inside there is a woodcut of a dragon. She also finds several letters that suggest danger, which further peaks her interest and she soon asks her father to tell her the story behind them. Reluctantly, he does so. As the mystery unfolds, the young woman discovers her family’s connection to the infamous prince, Vlad the Impaler, more popularly known as Dracula, who ruled during the late 15th century. As the characters travel through Europe, they are on an adventure that proves both enlightening and very dangerous. The story goes back and forth in time as the various stories—that of the narrator’s father, mother, Dracula’s and her own—come together.

The author weaves fact with fiction, using her own imagination as well as her thorough research into the history and folklore of the various regions visited in the novel and that of Vlad Dracula. Ms. Kostova captured the political tensions of the times, which was essential because the setting of the novel plays an important part in the story. The writing is elegant and beautiful. I was lost in the prose as soon as I began reading and held in suspense with each chapter. And when I was not reading the book, it was never far from my thoughts. I longed to return to Ms. Kostova’s world when forced to stop because of work, sleep or the usual daily responsibilities.

Perhaps it is my interest in history and other cultures that fascinated me most about The Historian, or it could have been the many mysteries the novel offered. It also could be several of the characters, whose life stories intrigued me and whose intelligence, unfailing curiosity and courage won me over from the first introduction. I have no doubt that it is a combination of all of these factors. This is by far the best book I have read in years and has earned a place among my all time favorite novels. The Historian is a novel that will definitely be worth re-reading, and with each new reading, I am sure something new will be discovered.

Favorite Part: I most loved the author’s descriptions of the various cities and countries that were visited. I felt like I was right there with the characters every step of the way. I loved visiting the various libraries and monasteries. It was all so fascinating to me! I think though, if I had to pick, Paul and Helen’s time in Istanbul is my favorite part of the book. That is where I met Professor Bora and his wonderful wife. But then, I also enjoyed my time in Bulgaria, meeting Stoichev, and his niece. Oh, how I would have loved to spend time listening to the stories he could to tell!

Miscellaneous: This is the hundredth book I have read this year. I am amazed I managed to get this many books read, and it’s only October. I purposefully chose to make The Historian my hundredth book at the beginning of the month, and I think it’s a well-deserved spot.

I bought the hardback version of this book last year when it came out, knowing I wanted to read it. As it turned out, it was not until the paperback version hit stores that I found my way to it among my TBR shelves. I talked my husband into letting me buy a copy of the paperback version—I figured the size would be more convenient to lug around to work and back, not to mention easer to hold when reading in bed each night.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Review of The Thoughtful Spot by Eric R. Weule

2004, iUniverse
203 pgs
Rating: * (Very Good)

First Sentence: The grass felt cool on her legs as she kneeled.

Reason for Reading: I selected this book to read and review for Curled Up With a Good Book.

Comments: With The Thoughtful Spot, author Eric R. Weule has written a novel that is much more than it seems at first glance. His gentle writing style pulls the reader right in and with each new facet that is added, the story grows more and more intricate. The author does not waste words by weighing it down with heavy pose or description.

In the opening scene, Stacey Hughes is celebrating what would have been her son’s 8th birthday. Stacey has suffered the worst tragedy a mother can suffer and her once happy life is in ruins. At one time she had the perfect marriage and a remarkable son named Micah. Nothing could have been better until that fateful day when everything would change. The tragedy put the Hughes’ lives into a tailspin and they stopped living life, merely existing. Stacey is ready to begin her life again but finds it difficult. Her marriage is in shambles. She is grateful for her teaching position at the local community college, which offers her some normalcy.

Tyler Sparks once lead a seemingly satisfying life. He settled in Seattle, working as a landscaper and doing other odd jobs, a transplant from Southern California. While at first reluctant to accept that his life was not what it once was, Tyler comes to the realization that he can no longer ignore the direction his life is going. He has been suffering from memory lapses, seizures, sensory overload, and blindness and worries that he is either going insane or perhaps has an undiagnosed medical condition. It feels as if there is something or someone that is taking refuge in his skull. His life is unraveling before his very eyes. The final straw is when his wife betrays him with his best friend. Tyler struggles to get back on his feet while searching for the cause of his loss of time and memory. Tyler’s brother and sister-in-law offer him shelter in their Orange County home and strength during his time of need.

Stacey and Tyler’s stories run parallel to each other, finally converging in a powerful way. The two are connected in a way neither imagined. They come together in the hopes of understanding the direction their lives have taken.

Both Tyler and Stacey are two characters who are working through their grief. They are both strong people who want to move on with their lives and share a determination to do so. They are well-drawn characters whose emotions and thoughts are deftly expressed throughout the novel. There is an immediate empathy for each of the main characters as well as many of the other major ones, including Micah and Jake whose own stories are intricately weaved into the story.

The Thoughtful Spot is an insightful and at times emotionally charged novel about family, love, grief and resilience. It is reminiscent of the Alice Sebold’s heart-wrenching novel, The Lovely Bones. Eric R. Weule’s novel is impossible to put down, and I was kept guessing right up to the very end. The Thoughtful Spot is a touching novel that will pull at the reader’s heartstrings and keep the reader entranced until the very end. Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Wendy Runyon, 2006

Favorite Part: My favorite part of the book are the glimpses of Micah that the author gives readers. Micah seemed like an extraordinary boy. I also liked the scenes with Jake. Jake was a likeable character overall.

Miscellaneous: I read a review that likened the author’s novel to Stephen King and Dean Koontz, which just confuses me. I don’t see the similarities. King and Koontz are writers whose novels terrorize and create fear (in a good way, of course), while The Thoughtful Spot is a novel that inspires and whose purpose seems more comforting. Maybe that’s just me.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Review of Dracula by Bram Stoker

1897 (Penguin Classic)
454 pgs
Rating: * (Very Good)

First Sentence: 3 May. Bistritz – Left Munich at 8.35 p.m. on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6.46, but train was an hour late.

Synopsis from Amazon.com: “The vampire novel that started it all, Bram Stoker's Dracula probes deeply into human identity, sanity, and the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire. When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries about his client. Soon afterward, disturbing incidents unfold in England-an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby, strange puncture marks appear on a young woman's neck, and a lunatic asylum inmate raves about the imminent arrival of his ‘Master’-culminating in a battle of wits between the sinister Count and a determined group of adversaries.”

Comments: Dracula has long been a character of myth, both in literature and in the movies. With the continuing and in some ways resurgent popularity of vampires today, I thought it was time I went to the one of the most famous accounts of the infamous vampire, starting with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I had the added motivation of wanting to read a novel that more recently came out called The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, and starting off with Dracula seemed the a wise course after seeing reviews of Ms. Kostova’s book.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula was subtle in terror, and yet quite suspenseful and alluring all the same. The novel is made up of journal entries, phonograph records, telegrams and missives, all offering the different perspectives of the many characters as the story unfolds. There is the young and courageous Jonathan Harker, his clever and perceptive wife Mina, the gentle and beautiful Lucy, the quiet but strong American Quincey Morris, the wealthy and gentlemanly Arthur Godalming, the intelligent Dr. John Seward, the lunatic Renfield, Professor Van Helsing whose knowledge and skill lead the group on their quest, and, of course, the most famous character of all, Count Dracula, who is most mysterious and horrifying throughout. Their experiences made for an intriguing story, which had me eagerly wanting to return to visit them each time I had to set the book down.

As with many classic novels, Dracula has been taken apart, piece by piece, every bit of it analyzed and philosophized about. There are many theories as to the author’s intent and its representation of Victorian society at the times. I did not read Dracula with any of this in mind, nor did I seek it out. I read the novel for purely entertainment value and was well rewarded. It is no wonder the novel has earned the status of a classic, and there is no doubt that it will continue to do so.

Favorite Part: I loved the character of Mina right from the start. She was not only intelligent and courageous, but also had a good heart. My favorite portion of the book by far was the beginning sections where Jonathan Harker is in Transylvania visiting the Count. There was eeriness about it that carried over into my dreams that first night after I started reading the novel.

Miscellaneous: From the late shift to the early shift. I am not sure how I feel about waking up extra early in the morning to get ready for work, but I don’t mind getting off at an earlier hour, that’s for sure!

On the movie front, my husband and I recently enjoyed watching Fried Green Tomatoes, a movie I had seen years ago, but after having just read the book was inspired to do so again. There were quite a few differences between the book and the movie, although that in now way took away from either. I enjoyed them both immensely. We also recently saw The Lake House movie starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. Although slow at times and trying to ignore the paradox that often comes with time travel of any kind (this time through letters), we both enjoyed the movie quite a bit.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Review of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

1987, McGraw-Hill
403 pgs
Rating: * (Very Good)

First Sentence: The Whistle Stop Café opened up last week, right next door to me at the post office, and owners Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison said business has been good ever since.

Reason for Reading: Years ago, I had seen the movie and after hearing nothing but good comments about Fannie Flagg and this particular novel, I decided to take a chance on it. I found a copy being circulated by bookring through BookCrossing and thought it would be a good time as any to read it.

Comments: There comes a time in life when every person examines where they are and where they’ve been. Evelyn Couch is not happy with her life. She tries to be the perfect wife and the expected gentle and polite woman, but has found that it is not enough. Escaping a weekly visit between her husband and his mother, Evelyn finds herself the listening board for an elderly woman whose “old timey” tales enchant her, stories of the Whistle Stop Café, Troutville, Idgie and Ruth, Big George and Smokey, among a few whose lives were full of hardship, laughter, courage, and strength. The elderly Ninny Threadgoode and Evelyn become fast friends and Evelyn finds herself taking more of an interest in life itself.

Fannie Flagg has written a beautiful novel that had me laughing out loud with almost every other chapter, crying at times and feeling like I was right there in Whistle Stop. Idgie’s humor and toughness was balanced out by Ruth’s gentleness and strength. Fannie Flagg captured the prejudices of the times between the blacks and the whites, as readers followed the stories of Artis, Big George, Willie Boy, Naughty Bird and several other characters that are sure to become favorites once met. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café just about has it all: a murder mystery, a love story, the Great Depression, the Ku Klux Klan, a robin hood of the trains, and plenty of family and friends. This is a novel that reaches into the heart and stays there.

Favorite Part: It’s hard to choose! One of my favorite scenes is when Idgie takes Stump to visit Eva’s dog. It was such a meaningful move on her part. Another favorite part of mine was the trial when the reverend takes the stand.

Miscellaneous: The author, Fannie Flagg, played Nurse Wilkins in one of my favorite movie musicals, Grease.

Take a look at Puss Reboots review of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Review of Baked Alaskan by William Scarborough

2006, iUniverse
276 pgs
Rating: * (Good +)

First Sentence: It was way early, like 5:30 in the a.m., when Billy Ray Dent eased his metallic blue pickup and bass boat into the parking lot at Vera’s Largemouth Café.

Reason for Reading: I was asked to review this book for Front Street Reviews.

Comments: William Scarborough’s Baked Alaskan is one of those thrill ride novels you pick up and read for a good time. It is a fun and entertaining book, jam packed with action and a touch of wit added in for good measure. A healthy suspension of disbelief is required.

Former Texas Ranger, Billy Ray Dent took early retirement from his security job with Tech Instruments and has settled into life as a fishing guide on an east Texas lake. When one of his former bosses, Cole Parker, comes for a visit and a bit of fishing, Billy Ray suspects there is more on Cole’s mind than he at first indicated. His suspicion proves true when Cole Parker ends up dead, shot while on Billy Ray’s bass boat in the middle of the lake, reeling in a 10-pounder. Taking his friend to safety after dodging bullets himself, Billy Ray promises his dying friend that he will warn Cole’s spitfire girlfriend, Darian Tonelli, that the killers are after the chip. Cole gave his word that Billy Ray would receive two million dollars for his trouble.

Cole Parker created a chip that will revolutionize television viewing, and the CEO of Tech Instruments will stop at nothing to get his hands on it. Likewise, a German company has taken an interest in the new technology and is working with the Russian Mafia to collect on that chip. With mob hit men and corporate goons hot on their trail, Billy Ray and Darian go on the run, fleeing for their lives.

Billy Ray Dent is one tough cookie that any woman would want on her side in a race for her life. He is quick on his feet and in bringing a plan together. He’s rough around the edges, but has a kind heart. Darian proves to be his match, an independent woman who has had to prove she’s more than just a pretty face by learning to do for herself—and there is not much she cannot do.

The corporate goons and mafia hit men are a bundle of bumbles as they try to rein in their prey. Their actions are not always pretty, although author William Scarborough humanizes them, making it impossible not to sympathize with them even if just a little.

Baked Alaskan is an action packed novel that takes readers from the lazy life on a Texas lake to the wilds of Alaska and then onto the busy streets of New York City. William Scarborough’s book is just plain fun and entertaining. It’s almost as good as the dessert by the same name.

Favorite Part: Ray Dent is quite a character! He is an upstanding sort of guy. And I sure would like to get to know Vera a bit more. She seems like a neat character.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Review of The Devil of Nanking by Mo Hayder

2006, Penguin
471 pgs
Rating: * (Outstanding)

First Sentence: To those who fight and rage against superstition, I say only this: why?

Reason for Reading: I selected to review The Devil of Nanking for curledup.com. The book sounded interesting and a couple of fellow booklovers from one of my book groups mentioned what a great thriller writer Mo Hayder is. I knew I had to give her a try.

Comments: I am finding that I really enjoy thrillers that have substance to them, the way this novel did and Minette Walters’ The Devil’s Feathers. Both were about more than just the story, delving deeply into the character development and their own self-discovery.

In The Devil of Nanking, Mo Hayder has taken a historical event that was suppressed for many years and that only recently has been brought to the forefront. Although the details and numbers of the Chinese civilians murdered by the Japanese soldiers during the Massacre of Nanking are still debated, it is no longer a secret lost in denial. Weaving fiction with fact, Mo Hayder has created a compelling and at times intense novel that was next to impossible to put down.

Shi Chongming kept his family from fleeing Nanking, China when word first got out that there was a possibility that the Japanese would march into the city. The year was 1937. He held out hope that his leader would see them through until it was too late. He witnessed the destruction of his city and the people in what would become known as the Massacre of Nanking. Decades later, Shi Chongming is a professor of sociology at Japan’s Todai University in Tokyo, where he teaches and lives a relatively quiet life, the past of Nanking seemingly buried.

One summer day a young British woman who calls herself Grey appears on Chongming’s doorstep at the university. She wants only one thing from him: to see the film footage he’s protected for so many years of a singular event during the Nanking Massacre of 1937 that has haunted her for “nine years, seven months, and eighteen days.” She searched long and hard for evidence that the event had occurred, despite those around her calling her crazy and of having an overactive imagination. Proving if only to herself that one sentence she read in an orange book she had found in her mother’s house all those years ago was true, has become her life’s mission.

Tokyo is not what Grey expected. The city is much more modern and built up than she anticipated. Her expectation was to find a city that still showed signs of being war torn after the Second World War. In a culture that is believed to be of one mind, where conformity is key, she also was able to see an unexpected individualism in the people. Grey takes a room in a mansion, her landlord an American to whom she finds herself drawn despite the warnings of their Russian roommates. She finds a job as a hostess in a sophisticated club where she entertains and caters to well to do men. Grey, having grown up completely isolated and never truly believing in herself, suddenly finds a confidence she never knew she had.

It is at the club that Grey meets Junzo Fuyuki, a crippled gangster, one of the most feared men in Tokyo. Chongming takes an interest in Grey once he learns of her connection to Fuyuki and they agree to a trade, Chongming will show Grey the film she has spent years trying to find, if she does him one small favor.

Chongming and Grey are much alike, their paths very similar. They both struggle with guilt from the past and the parts they played in the tragedies that haunt them. Furthermore, the two have built walls around themselves, remaining withdrawn and not letting anyone in so easily.

With Grey’s present day narrative and excerpts from Chongming’s journal from the time of the massacre running parallel to each other, a very disturbing and intriguing story emerges in The Devil of Nanking. The two stories deftly come together into a haunting and powerful tale that the reader won’t soon forget. Mo Hayder’s characters are complex and have many layers. As the story unfolds, each layer is peeled away revealing deeper, often unexpected layers. The author can be harsh and raw in her descriptions, which only add to the intensity of the novel.

The Devil of Nanking is not a novel for the faint of heart. Mo Hayder was not afraid to put down on paper the grim realities of the atrocities committed during wartime. She takes readers deep into China during a very dark moment in history as well as flirts with the deadliest of the Tokyo gangsters. The Devil of Nanking is definitely worth taking the time to read. Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Wendy Runyon, 2006

Favorite Part: My favorite character was Mama Strawberry, who liked to dress up like Marilyn Monroe each night. I think her story is one worth pursuing if ever a person were caught up in Mo Hayder’s fictional world.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Review of Red Sky Lament by Edward Wright

2006, Orion
278 pgs
Rating: * (Good)

First Sentence: Spotted over late-night scrambled eggs and onions at Schwab’s Drugstore on the fabled Sunset Strip, none other than Clark Gable, one of our favorite leading men.

Reason for Reading: I had the opportunity to review this book for Front Street Reviews. Being a mystery lover, I thought it was worth a try.

Comments: Red is often a color associated with anger, passion, and represents fire as well as, at one time, communism. A lament is a cry of sorrow or grief. Red Sky Lament is a fitting title for a novel wrought with all of those characteristics.

During the late 1940's and into the 1950's, J. Parnell Thomas, chairman of the House Un-American Activities Committee opened an investigation into the Hollywood Motion Picture Industry, searching out people who were associated with the Communist Party or showed signs of communist sympathies. Hearings were held condemning Hollywood personalities, ruining their lives and careers with little regard for truth and justice. It was a witch-hunt of sorts, and unless a person subscribed to the popular beliefs at the time, that person could easily be labeled as a communist sympathizer and an outcast.

It is in this environment, with the looming danger of a brush fire that could change course with a shift in the winds and the unsettling threat of the upcoming hearings, that Edward Wright’s novel is set. When screenwriter Owen Bruder is accused of being a communist, Maggie O'Dare turns to her old lover, the former cowboy actor and ex-felon John Ray Horn. Despite his misgivings and doubts about the screenwriter, John Ray agrees to take on the case to uncover the identity of the person who lied about Owen Bruder's communist affiliation. As betrayal gives way to murder and the lives of his friends are threatened, John Ray's determination to get to the truth only grows stronger.

There could not be a more perfect main character for a novel like this. John Ray Horn is a man of his time, loyal, a cowboy who will stand up to his convictions and for those he loves, and a man of decent character. He isn't without his flaws, however. His temper and jealously sometimes get in his way. His lack of interest in politics allows a glimpse into just how uncertain things were during that time period, with the strong sense of patriotism but also a sense of fairness, which seemed to get lost in the fear of communism, however real or imagined.

Edward Wright has taken a piece of American history and made it his own in Red Sky Lament. The novel is well researched and captures the heart of the controversy, including the patriotism, the bigotry and the fear of the era. He adeptly weaves fact with fiction, bringing the story to life. The reader is transported to Los Angeles of the 1940's from the very first pages and the characters were well drawn. Red Sky Lament is a mystery novel worth reading whether you are new to the series or a continuing fan.

Favorite Part: The Woody Guthrie bits were fun. I really did like the main character, John Ray Horn; he seems like someone I would want on my side in any sort of fight. He’s loyal, if sometimes misguided at times, but overall wants to do the right thing. Maggie O’Dare is probably my favorite character though. She’s gutsy and intelligent.