The Daily Bongo

September 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012 -- Evening

Cover of The Grey Beginning by Barbara Michaels
The Grey Beginning by Barbara Michaels
The Grey Beginning by Babara Michaels is a good, old fashioned gothic mystery. Kathy Malone is devastated by the death of her young husband, Bart Morandini. After seeking help from psychiatrists, she finally decides that she should go to Italy to make contact with Bart's grandmother, the Contessa Morandini. The Contessa hasn't replied to Kathy's letters, and Kathy wants closure. When Kathy finally makes it to Tuscany and gets to the Morandini estate, she finds herself getting sucked into life there. The Contessa misinterprets Kathy's stomach emptying with morning sickness and assumes that Kathy is pregnant. Kathy discovers that a ten-year-old child, Pietro, or Pete, is living a strange existence there. Pete is locked in his room and kept under close supervision. Pete lost his father and mother in a plane crash and was recently ripped from his home in the US. Kathy is concerned about Pete, and she becomes even more concerned when she hears that Pete has been trying to harm himself. Is it hereditary mental illness as the Contessa insists, or is it something else? Throw in the mean, hulking caretaker, Alberto, his sneaking wife, Emilia, the professor looking for letters from Browning, and the lunatic assistant gardener, and Kathy is up to her elbows in a sinister, gothic environment. Can Kathy resolve her issues over her husband's death? Can she figure out what is going on with Pete, and possibly rescue him?

By the end of the book, all the loose strings are wrapped up. Although this book was published in 1984 and has a contemporary setting, the book is a great example of a classic gothic. Lurking evil, a huge house, and a feeling af entrapment permeate the book. I found myself getting caught up in the story and rooting for Kathy to figure out what the heck was going on. Of course, this wouldn't be a romantic suspense gothic without romance, and Kathy has two potential suitors: Pete's psychiatrist and the academic professor, David Brown. I thought the book was great, and I enjoyed reading it. I wish that Michaels/Peters/Mertz wrote more books in the genre.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 -- Evening

Big Brother Finale
I got to catch the final BB show. I got to see the first HOH, which both Ian and Danielle threw. Then Ian won the second HOH. When it came to the final HOH question time, Ian got the first five of six questions right. Dan only had two questions right. Ian, of course, evicted Danielle. Question time was interesting. Danielle asked Ian if he knew that Dan had a final two with her. Ian said that he would be surprised because Ian had Dan's grandfather gold necklace as collateral. I think that it can be a toss-up between Dan and Ian. I just really hated Danielle, and I'm glad that she gets $0 (except for the stipend everyone gets for being in the show.)

Ashley voted for Ian
Britney voted for Ian
Frank voted for Ian
Joe voted for Ian
Jenn voted for Ian
Shane voted for Ian
Danielle voted for Dan--what an idiot!

Ian won with six votes to one and he was overcome with emotion. I'm satisfied with this win because I thought Ian was a likable character. I'm just shocked that Dan didn't get more votes because he did play a really good game. Frank won America's Favorite Player and got $25,000. Another season of Big Brother done! Now, we just have to wait ten more months for the next addition.

Sunday, September 16, 2012 -- Evening

Cover of The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva
The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva
I have been a fan of Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon for years. Every summer, I look forward to the latest installment. I do admit that I was starting to get slightly tired of Allon being beaten to near death, so I was really looking forward to The Fallen Angel.

The Fallen Angel had Allon back in Rome, restoring a Caravaggio for the Vatican. Pope Paul VII and his right hand man, Monsignor Luigi Donati returned as main characters in the story. I liked the other book that involved the Vatican, Pope Paul VII, and Donati, The Messenger. Allon was asked to investigate the possible suicide of a young woman who worked in the Vatican unit that investigated the ownership of Vatican relics. Her job was to determine if other countries might have a claim to the relics. Allon determined that the suicide was really a murder, and it lead him on a long, twisted journey into stolen antiquities and plots against the Pope and the Jews. The Arab terrorist groups weren't happy with the Pope supporting the Jewish people. Allon raced against time to keep the Pope and the state of Israel safe.

I really enjoyed The Fallen Angel. I liked that Allon wasn't at death's door or that Chiara, Allon's wife, wasn't being terrorized. The action was well paced, and I found myself engrossed in the story. Silva told a great story, and he put in all the news about the region, with references to the Arab Spring and Muslim Brotherhood. If you haven't read a Daniel Silva, you can start with The Fallen Angel. Although the characters have a back story from the other books, Silva recounts enough of it so the reader can enjoy the current book without reading the others. I would strongly recommend The Fallen Angel to anyone who loves contemporary action thrillers.

Sunday, September 16, 2012 -- Afternoon

NHL Lockout
Because the NHL owners and players were unable to come to an agreement, the owners have locked out the players. Most analysts believe that the season will be delayed. It's just a matter of how long. Some of the NHL players, like Evgeni Malkin, are going to play in the KHL.
Final Three HOH
Danielle is really showing mental instability. She was really upset with Dan for evicting Shane, but then she threw the first HOH competition to him. What the heck?!?!?!? In the second HOH on Saturday, she lost to Ian and really started a meltdown, egged on by Dan, of yelling and threatening Ian. She kept on saying crazy stuff, saying she would turn the jury house against him, even though she won't really get to talk to them until the finale. She is really angry and filled with hatred of Ian instead of accepting that Dan is the one who spoiled her chances by getting rid of Shane. Now if only Ian will win the final HOH and take Dan. Danielle is one psycho wench, and she really shouldn't have a chance of getting any money. Besides, she had no strategy except to do what Dan told her to do. I think a Dan and Ian final two would be fitting for the season.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 -- Evening

Gonna Love the Blindside!
I finally have a chance to watch BB live. I thought that Julie Chen was looking good tonight, with a nice hairdo and red dress. Ian was really happy that the quack pack made it to the final four. Ian says it's down to the relationship (Danielle and Shane) and the Renegades. Ian wants to get him and Dan to final two. Shane says final three plan is him, Dan, and Danielle. Dan says that he has final three deals with everyone and no one knows it. Dan coaches Danielle on putting up him and Ian. Danielle claims that she loves all three guys to death.

We got to see what has been going on in the jury house. Ashley came across like a ditz burger! Ashley loved Britney and wanted her in the game. Ashley and Britney were joined by Frank. Britney wanted it to be Frank. Ashley wanted Frank to win, but can't wait to make out with Frank. Frank is such an idiot, and Britney told Frank that Frank didn't keep his word. Britney tells Frank that Frank was Dan misted. They were all hoping for Dan to enter the house, but it was Joe. Britney and Frank argue about Frank's loyalty. Britney says it's a game, and everyone is dishonesty. Frank keeps on claiming he was honest, but Frank had a deal with Britney and put her up. Britney says that Frank had no social game, and that is why Frank is in the jury house. Frank just comes across as an ass.

The POV competition was to match up house guests to clues. Some of the clues can match multiple answers. Ian hits the buzzer first, but then he gets it wrong. Dan realizes that Ian is wrong because he hears the buzzer and then Ian makes weird monster noises. Danielle doesn't want Ian to win because she will have to write him a check. Ian can't figure out what is wrong, and he is just changing one answer at a time. Danielle just managed to beat out Ian. Shane was very happy that Danielle won. Danielle says that she, Dan, and Shane are going to final three. Ian says that it's unlikely that the nominations will change and that it looks bad for Ian.

Danielle is shocked Ian says that if Dan goes home that's not good for Ian. Or of course, if Ian goes home. Dan goes up to the HOH to make his move to Danielle. Dan says that if he is sitting on the block, he's going home. Dan says in DR that he has final two with Danielle and Ian, and only Shane stands in the way. Dan says that he is telling Danielle anything she wants to hear because Dan wants to evict Shane. Danielle tells Shane that she is going to take Dan off the block and that she can promise Shane that he isn't going anywhere. Shane tells Dan that he's okay with whatever she decides.

It's finally time for the live veto meeting. Dan has been letting the folks on the feeds know he is going to evict Shane because Shane doesn't have a deal with Dan. Ian and Dan give their speeches. It's now time for Danielle to make her decision. Danielle takes Dan off the block, and Shane takes Dan's place. ian is shocked. Shane and Ian get to address Dan. Shane claims that he didn't know he would be on the block, even though Danielle told him earlier. Shane tells Danielle that she is a sweetheart. Dan sends Shane home, and Danielle's mouth drops so wide. Dan said that Joe and Jenn told him that there was one relationship to breakup. Danielle is shocked. Dan takes Danielle into the arcade room, and says that he broke up the relationship to get Shane out. As Dan tells Danielle this is the one way to guarantee votes for Danielle. Danielle is wondering how many times Dan lied to her. Meanwhile Ian is pacing in the kitchen in shock. Danielle keeps on telling Dan that she trusted Dan one hundred percent. Shane seems really upset and shocked. Shane was really to cry because he trusted Dan. Shane says that he thinks he can forgive Danielle for this happening. This is really great stuff!

The HOH endurance is going to start sometime later. Meanwhile Dan is still in the arcade room trying to mist Danielle. Great, great stuff! Dan deserves to win BB14.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 -- Afternoon

Quick BB Update
I haven't been able to watch Big Brother, either online or TV because I've been busy with two classes this fall. I did get a quick Twitter and fan blog update. Jenn was voted out of the house on a quick eviction on Tuesday. Then Danielle won the HOH. She put up Dan and Ian. Then Danielle, surprise of surprises, won the POV. She's telling Shane that she has to use the POV on Dan, because she wants Dan to get blood on his hands and vote out Ian. However, it seems that Dan has been whispering to the feed cameras that he is going to get rid of Shane. That's the best deal for Dan because both Danielle and Ian would take Dan to the final two. Tonight's show will have the eviction and the start of the Final HOH endurance competition. I hope Ian and Dan make the final two. I really do not want to see Danielle in the final two. That girl is really psycho!

Sunday, September 9, 2012 -- Evening

Shane Wins POV
Shane won the POV, and he will obviously take himself off the block tomorrow. The question is whether Dan or Danielle will go up in his place. Ian seems to have been blinded by Dan's mist, and Ian will probably put Danielle on the block. Dan will probably work his wiles to get her out of the house. The person everyone wants to sit beside at the end is Jenn because she did nothing, and no one would vote for her. As part of the POV, Shane won a trip outside of the BB house. He chose Danielle as his guest, and after they left, Dan started with the comments on how those two will never be broken up. It will be interesting to see what happens. I won't be watching BB tonight because it's the season opener for the Steelers, who will be playing the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning.

Friday, September 7, 2012 -- Evening

Double Eviction Recap
I wasn't able to watch the Big Brother double eviction because I had a migraine. The house guests were shocked when they found out it was going to be a fast forward show. Frank was evicted. Everyone knew that except for Frank. In the HOH competition, Dan, surprisingly, wasn't able to throw it or didn't want to throw it. He won HOH and put up Ian and Joe. Although Joe seemed to pull ahead in the veto competition at one point, Ian won. I was glad about that because I like Ian. He is a fellow Pittsburgher, and he just seems to have that slightly weird, nerdy demeanor like others that I know. When Ian came off the block, Dan put Danielle up. Of course, Danielle was very unhappy about that, but it just meant that Joe was guaranteed to go home. The show ended without an HOH, but after the feeds went out for a bit, they came back with Ian as HOH. Just a few minutes ago, Ian made his nominations: Jenn and Shane. All in all, a satisfying double fast forward. There are only a few more shows left in the season. I am rooting for Ian or Dan.

Sunday, September 2, 2012 -- Afternoon

Cover of Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie
Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie
This is the final book in the Poirot in the Orient collection. I hate the character of Mrs. Boynton, who eventually is murdered, and I admit that I look forward to her murder. In the book, Mrs. Boynton rules her step-children and own child with an iron fist, causing them all much mental anguish. Lennox, Raymond, Carole, and Ginevra (Mrs. Boynton's biological daughter) all suffer mental torment at Mrs. Boynton's hand. They are captives, unable to escape. The only person not affected by Mrs. Boynton is Lennox's wife, Nadine, but Nadine is troubled because she loves Lennox and can't get him to escape. Mrs. Boyton usually keeps the family at home, but she decides to take a trip to the Middle East. The trip gives her a chance to test and strengthen her hold on the family. However, revolt is in the air, and Hercule Poirot overhears Richard and Carole talk about how they must murder Mrs Boynton in order to escape. When Mrs. Boynton dies on a trip to Petra, the local authority, Colonel Carbury calls in Poirot to find out what really happened. Additional characters in the book are: I have to admit that this is not the first time I read the book. I knew who the murderer was, but I have to admit that I remember from the first that I was truly surprised at whodunit. Christie knows how to present the psychology of the various characters. Mrs. Boynton oozes evil. You want someone to kill her and to make her suffer the way she made others suffer. But as Poirot says, murder is murder. The murderer should not be allowed to walk free just because the person deserves to die. Of course, Nadine Boynton brings up the case on the Orient Express, but Poirot dismisses that as an aberration in his usual technique. If you haven't read it, you should. See if you can figure out the murderer. The clues are there, and Christie tries to get the reader to see it by calling out the significant points. All I know is that Appointment with Death is an enjoyable and satisfying mystery.
Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child
Cover of Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child I read Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child on my Kindle. So, I'll give some feedback on that experience with this particular book. Terminal Freeze is very much a thriller on the order of Michael Crichton. The book is set in the Arctic Circle region of Alaska. A group of scientists are working from the military's Fear Base to study global warming. There are only a few military personnel still on the base because it has been closed down. The scientists are alarmed at the rapid thawing of glaciers in the area, and they start to notice a really distinctive blood red aurora, around the time they find a prehistoric creature, believed to be a saber-toothed tiger, encased in ice within a cave in one of the glaciers. The local Indian tribe, Tunit, leader journeys to the base to warm the scientists to cease and desist. However, the cogs are the wheel are already in motion. The scientists are there thanks to a grant from a media corporation, who sends out a team of film production people to make a documentary. The producer, Emilio Conte, digs up the chunk of ice enclosing the creature and takes it to the base to thaw an expose on a live broadcast. However, as soon as the thawing process starts, the creature disappears. The production folks believe the creature was stolen, but the scientists start to believe that the creature was flash frozen alive, and that when the ice was thawed, the creature came to life. Well, it turns out he scientists are right, and the creature, much larger and deadlier than a saber-tooth starts to prey on the people at Fear. A blizzard keeps the people at Fear, and it becomes a race to see if the creature can be stopped.

I really enjoyed the thrills of the story. Some of the descriptions of the creatures ripping apart of the people it hunts down can be a bit gruesome, but it's not so bad that I couldn't finish reading the book. I didn't feel that Lincoln Child had such a tight grip on the characters. i wasn't sure if he planned on featuring Evan Marshall, one of the scientists originally at Fear, or Jeremy Logan, a historian/enigmalogist who is the main character in Third Gate, the new Lincoln Child book. Although the story is formulaic, I still enjoyed it.

My only problem was with the Kindle format. It seems that when the Kindle copy was created, from a print version. At least I assume that because some of the words have hyphens in the middle of sentences, as if the word was originally hyphenated at the end of a sentence. It was consistent throughout the Kindle version, and it really started to irritate me.

Saturday, September 1, 2012 -- Evening

Quick BB Update
It wasn't much of a surprise when Ian won the Endurance competition on Big Brother Thursday night. He was close for the first Endurance, and it was imperative for him to win this time so he would remain in the house. The Quack Pack was quickly reestablished, and Frank and Jenn were on the block. Dan won the veto today, so the question will be if he lets Frank stay on the block. If so, Frank will be out the door on Thursday. I'm not sure what Dan thinks about strategy in this case.