“INDIGO”, a mosaic novel by Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden, Kelley Armstrong, Jonathan Maberry, Kat Richardson, Seanan McGuire, Tim Lebbon, Cherie Priest, James A. Moore, Mark Morris.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: June 2017

ISBN 978-1-250-07678-6

Book supplied by Reviewer

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

This is the second book I’ve read that was written by a committee. The first one was “Naked Came The Stranger”, back in 1969, written by Penelope Ashe, which was a pseudonym for a group of twenty-four journalists led by Newsday columnist Mike McGrady. He wanted to write a book that was both deliberately terrible and contained a lot of sex, to illustrate the point that popular American literary culture had become mindlessly vulgar. McGrady was convinced that any book could succeed if enough sex was thrown in. He was right; the book became a bestseller. After the hoax was revealed, it sold even more copies. This proves that you can never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, according to H.L. Mencken, renowned author and cynic.

I don’t know what motivated the above authors to write this book, but I suspect it was the current popularity for superheroes which dominates our movies and TV shows. If you think Batman has a dark side (when did the Dark Knight become so dark, anyway?), wait till you meet Indigo. Nora Hesper, investigative reporter for the NYChronicle, is also a night walking vigilante named Indigo, who can wrap herself in shadow to become invisible and move from one place to another with the speed of light, or darkness. She can also form weapons out of the darkness, using them primarily against a murderous cult called the Children of Phonos, which abducts and sacrifices children for its own dark purposes. Her parents died at the hands of a vicious mugger when she was nineteen, leaving her a small fortune in insurance money that allowed her to travel around the world until she came to a mountaintop monastery in Nepal, where she learned strange magic from the mystical monks that allowed her to control the darkness. Or did she?

When she comes across the Children of Phonos, also called the Phonoi, in an abandoned warehouse in the Bronx, about to sacrifice their latest victim, she crashes the party as Indigo and slaughters them all. Too late to save the unfortunate victim, but the priestess of the cult, a rich bitch and a member of high society, as are most of the other cultists, lives long enough to gasp out some interesting information, ending with the words “It should’ve been…you.” That sends Nora on a dark journey of self-discovery, as she investigates her own background and finds that everything she thinks she remembers is a lie.

Without injecting too many spoilers, I can tell you that poor Nora has been deceived by herself and the people around her for most of her life. She qualifies as a schizophrenic for having three personalities living inside her frail frame; Nora, Indigo, and a murder demon named Damastes, who is the real source of her power over darkness. How he got trapped inside her is a long, sad story punctuated by violence, which will keep you up at night desperately turning the pages of this novel to see what happens next to our hapless heroine, whose false memories are based upon the comic books she used to read beneath the bedcovers to help her survive a chaotic, dysfunctional childhood.

Nora is forced to confront the fact that everything she believes in and loves best is a lie, even the best friend she confides in. The one true thing she can count on is her boyfriend Sam Loh, also a reporter for NYChronicle, who’s fascinated by Indigo and trying to find out whether she’s a hero or a villain for her willingness to slaughter the evil people who kidnap children for human sacrifice. Along the way she meets some unlikely allies who are also trying to overcome Damastes and his followers, as well as a rival demon trying to take Damastes’ place in the murder cult of the Phonoi.

There are some inconsistencies in the plot, like whole areas of Nora’s past left blank, why her parents got involved with the Phonoi, and so on. Aside from these small holes, the plot thickens nicely enough to keep you turning the pages until the end. Not a very happy ending, but a satisfying one, from my point of view, that ties up all the loose ends and keeps the authorities in the dark about the real reasons all these people connected with the Phonoi keep turning up dead. So if you’re looking for a different kind of superhero, one who’s more like the people who read about superheroes than a millionaire loner traumatized by his parents’ violent death, give Indigo a try.

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Katsucon 2017 – a con in review

The Gaylord Resort and Convention Center becomes a center of cosplay and fandoms as fans gather at Katsucon. This year, it wasn’t on Valentine’s Day but the weekend afterwards, February 17 to 19. The weather was beautiful, warm so cosplayers flooded the grounds with their latest outfits, photoshooting and posing. A celebration of series and music with masquerade, craftsmanship and panels. My focus of the weekend was on the cosplays as usual and the con didn’t disappoint.
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Katsucon 2017 – Aniplex of America

Marketing specialist, Allen welcomed the fans to the panel. He noted that it was the first time at Katsucon. He praised the cosplayers “The things that your characters get to do, climb rocks, get into gazebo, these are things in LA that you would NEVER get to do. It’s a hazard.” His energy was met with laughter.
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Katsucon 2017 – Model Exposition

Amazed, I’m always in awe by the level of detail and attention placed on the clothing in movies. The scene passes quickly and the characters are the main focus, usually not their clothing. But to see it up close, note the type of material and attention to the lines and colors is a great opportunity for those interested in sewing and fashion. Or simply cosplay.
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Katsucon 2017 – Masquerade

The highlight of the weekend has to be the masquerade and it was the performances themselves were amazing. The level of creativity is always high at this convention and this year was no different. Some highlights of the acts are shown below.
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Otakon 2016 – Makino Yui Concert

Makino Yui-san stepped onstage and opened with the light and cheerful melody of ‘Modokashii Sekai no Uede’ which brought on the cheers of the crowd. She then greeted the audience in English with a loud voice. “Thank you! Hi, everyone! Hi, Balitmore! I’m happy to see all of you!” The audience was definitely excited as they cheered back. Yui-san then switched to Japanese.

    Yui: Hello, everyone. I’m Makino Yui. Thank you very much. Is it okay to speak in Japanese? That’s amazing! Do you understand Japanese? Thank you so much! I love you all! Thank you!

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Book review: Joe Steele by Harry Turtledove

I’d like to publish the following guest review by my favorite collaborator, Pet Leopard, as a warning of things to come after the nomination of Donald Trump on January 20th. God help America.

“Joe Steele” by Harry Turtledove
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication Date: 12/01/2015
ISBN-13: 9780451472199
Book supplied by Reviewer

Guest Review by Pet Leopard

Well, according to a popular old saying: “The more things change, the more they stay the same. Harry Turtledove’s thought provoking masterpiece, “Joe Steele”, is a testament to the truth of that line of reasoning.

As a child of the early 1960’s, I have lived through both Kennedy assassinations, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the Gulf War, the attacks on the World Trade Center, and a horrible decade-long period of warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq. Although Mr. Turtledove references an alternate history that’s set well before the earliest of those events had taken place, there are many parallels that resonate very closely.
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Book review: “Do You Want to Know a Secret? The Autobiography of Billy J. Kramer

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET? THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BILLY J. KRAMER
BY: BILLY J. KRAMER with Alyn Shipton
PUBLISHED BY: Equinox Publishing 2016
ISBN: 978 1 78179 361 9
Review copy sent by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

The British Invasion didn’t just bring The Beatles to our shore. It also brought a great many young British bands eager to follow in their footsteps. Some went on to become big stars, like The Rolling Stones and The Who. Some were one hit wonders who just came and went. But one enduring presence was a lad who befriended the Fab Four when they were all just aspiring young musicians in Liverpool. His name was, and is, Billy J. Kramer.
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Photos from Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con

(I think that’s the name of it.)

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Otakon 2016 – a con in review

Otakon’s last weekend at Baltimore was filled with a plethora of guests with varied talents. From Japan, we have industry guests, from PA Works CEO Horikawa Kenji, Producer Kikuchi Nobuhiro and art director Higashiji Kazuki, illustrator Fukagawa Kasumi of the Idolish Seven fame and director Akane Kazuki from Sunrise amongst others. Popular seiyuu Yamamoto Kazutomi and Makino Yui share their experiences and musical talent. Other musical guests include ALL-OFF, Michi and Yoshiki making a rare appearance via webcam. Stateside guests include Ray Chase, Robbie Daymond, Aaron Dismuke, Caitlin Glass, Lauren Landa and way, way more. Culture guests include priestess and model Kanawa Kuniko, Men at Arms and these are just the tip of the list. With the number of guests and events, we can’t hit everything. However, the weekend has created memories which the city will not soon forget.
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Otakon 2016 – PA Works Gallery


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Otakon 2016 – Yamamoto Kazutomi panel

The panel opened with the first episode of Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu love!! love!! Watching the first episode subbed on a large screen with other fans is a great experience, we get to laugh together at the same jokes.


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Otakon 2016 – part of the masquerade and Michi’s concert

Arrived during skit 12 and though we only saw a bit of the performances, those we saw were very good. The host was the same and aside from his usual jokes, he also posted questions and comments from twitter on the screen which were hilarious.


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Otakon 2016 – Yoshiki panel

Unfortunately, there was a few second delay as always with these online video conferences. But the fans were patient and Yoshiki was trying his best. He was sitting with one of his pianos in the back.
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Otakon 2016 – Makino Yui panel

Makino-san opened by greeting the audience, noting that it was her first time in Baltimore and she was very happy with yesterday’s concert. She was thrilled that everyone was able to sing with her. The audience started calling out ‘Hello!’ in response. Makino-san smiled as she said that she was initially afraid that she was going to be singing by herself. *fans awwed* “I’m so happy to sing with you. Thank you very much!”
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Otakon 2016 – Sailor Moon Viz panel

Prior to the start of the panel, they show the trailers for Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon R and Sailor Moon Crystal. It is interesting to see the trailers back to back and being able to compare the new and old series. Though the voice actors are the same, the feel of the series is very different. Even looking at the trailers really hyped up the crowd who cheered for their favorite moments on the screen.
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Book review: My Kid Brother’s Band a/k/a The Beatles!

My Kid Brother’s Band, aka The Beatles!
By Louise Harrison
Published by Acclaim Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-938905-52-0
Review copy sent by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

I first saw Louise Harrison at this year’s Fest for Beatles Fans in Rye, N.Y. She spoke about her brother George with so much love and affection that I decided I had to read her book to learn more about the man we Beatles fans call The Quiet Beatle, but she called her little brother. I was half expecting a puff piece making George look more angelic than was humanly possible, like another Harrison bio I read (see my earlier review, “Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison” by Joshua M. Greene). Instead, I found an honest, in-depth history of the author’s life during World War II as well as before and after her little brother became famous.
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Book review: Here Comes the Sun. The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison

Here Comes the Sun. The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison
By Joshua M. Greene
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006
ISBN-13:9780470127803
Review copy provided by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

Let me say right from the beginning: I loved this book! Despite the obvious proselytizing on behalf of the Hindu religion—what used to be known as Krishna Consciousness here in the States—Joshua M. Greene, writer and producer for PBS and the Disney Channel (he also wrote “Justice at Dachau” and “Witness: Voices from the Holocaust”, which was made into a PBS-TV documentary), has written a tender, loving account of the life of George Harrison, before and after the Beatles, and how his faith in Krishna helped him to overcome all the emotional and financial setbacks in his life, ultimately allowing him to die with grace after losing his battle with brain cancer.
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