Read Recently — May 2014– The Great Show Next Door

Courtney Crumrin Volume Five: the Witch Next Door by Ted Naifeh

I haven’t talked much about graphic novels, and to be honest I read fewer of them these days. The Courtney Crumrin series, written and illustrated by Ted Naifeh (who has a unique visual style), is really interesting and, since it’s urban fantasy, fits into my area of interest.

Since we’re joining the series here at book five, a quick recap: back in book one, Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things, Courtney’s social climber parents move in with their elderly Uncle Aloysius (exactly whose uncle or great-uncle he is remains a mystery to everyone to this very day) in the upscale suburb of Hillsborough. Uncle Al has a big ol house, and they say he’s getting old and needs taking care of. Courtney, having a little more on the ball than her parents, soon notices that not only does Uncle Al not need taking care of, but that he’s actually a powerful magician, keeping mundanes from noticing by hiding, as she puts it, “in casa de dumbass.” It doesn’t take Courtney long to learn how to do magic herself although, in addition to nuetralizing the local bullies, she manages to make a few very dangerous mistakes. She emerges stronger, though, and with a good relationship with Aloysius.

In this volume, another girl moves in next door and we get to see Courtney from the outside, and from that angle, she doesn’t look like the good witch at all. In fact, though we know her actions were justified, she looks like a very bad witch indeed. And all the enemies that she has made through the series are going to come back and just maybe cost her everything she cares about.

Highly recommended, but start with Night Things if you haven’t already.

The Greatest Show On Earth: the evidence for evolution by Richard Dawkins

Okay, let’s get this out of the way right off: Richard Dawkins is a dick on social issues. I started to wonder if there was something about being an atheist scientist that did something to your mind until I remembered that Hitchens wasn’t a scientist and he was a dick, while P.Z. Myers is a scientist and he’s managed to avoid dickery so far. Still, while Dawkins is a dick, he is a great science educator and in this book he sets about explaining what he’s been taking for granted in most of his books so far: how we know evolution is true.

Recommended, if you can separate Dawkins-the-science-writer from Dawkins-the-dick. If you can’t, well, other people cover the same territory. Try one of them.

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