Review – Batgirl: Death of the Family

Cover of Batgirl: Death in the Family by Gail SimoneBatgirl: Death of the Family, Gail Simone, Daniel Sampere

There’s a lot of individual elements I like in this book — Barbara’s bravery, her struggles with her anger at the people who put her in a wheelchair, her sheer ferocious intelligence (and yet she spends so much time punching her way through problems, sigh), some of the family issues that are brought up… But where it ties in with the other Batfamily books, it feels clumsy. I don’t know what’s going on with Damien, with Nightwing, etc. Nor do I really get chance to care, since it’s all a whirlwind of action.

The art is good, expressive, etc, but ye gods, I forgot how dark DC comics can be. Grit, grit, and more grit.

I do like Alysia’s coming out; I like the casual way Barbara takes it, and yet how important the moment still feels.

Rating: 3/5

Stacking the Shelves

First full week of 2015; first chance for us to break all our resolutions and buy a load of books. How’s everyone else been getting along?

Comics

Cover of Batgirl volume 4 by Gail Simone

Late Christmas present from my dad. ❤

Library books

Cover of Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs Cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman Cover of Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Cover of The Time Paradox by Philip Zimbardo Cover of The Secret Life of Birds by Colin Tudge

At my parents’ place again for most of January, so this is what I got out of the library to keep me amused — as if I needed anything more than what’s on my ereader and on my shelves from their generosity at Christmas! Ahem…

Anyway, so far this year I’ve avoided buying any new books; I’ve finished the first book in my Open University course already, so I feel like maybe I deserve one, but I can’t choose. I do now have an Amazon wishlist which I’m trying to keep updated. If nothing else, it’ll serve as a list of ‘approved’ books when I do want to get something, and I’ve saved stuff I haven’t preordered yet onto there too.

Stacking the Shelves – The Holy Crap Edition

Or, Stacking the Shelves: The Christmas Edition! I think I’ve probably had similarly large hauls before, but still… I had a very good Christmas, and if I could just tear myself away from my new game (Final Fantasy Theatrhythm: Curtain Call), I’ll show you all the details. Plus my giant literary giraffe, a gift from my dad.

Photo of me wearing a paper party hat, next to my five foot tall giraffe
His name is Charles Parker, after Lord Peter’s best friend.
He turns up when you least expect it.
Turn around…

So yeah, that was a Christmas. And this is a haul…

Comics

Cover of Batgirl: Silent Running by Kelley Puckett Cover of Batgirl: A Knight Alone by Kelley Puckett Cover of Batgirl: Death in the Family by Gail Simone

Cover of She-Hulk vol. 1 by Dan Slott Cover of Saga vol 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples Cover of Saga vol 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

The first four are from Mum and Dad — and don’t worry, I know it’s the first two feature Cassandra Cain as Batgirl, and the third Barbara Gordon — and the two Saga volumes are from my little sis. ❤

Non-fiction

Cover of Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay by Simon Napier-Bell Cover of Sex & Punishment by Eric Berkowitz Cover of The Reluctant Yogi by Carla McKay

Cover of Lucy: The Beginnings of Mankind Cover of The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smolin

One of you lot recommended me The Trouble with Physics, and Dad got me that and the book on Lucy. The other three came from the Kindle sale.

Pure geekery

Maps of Tolkien's Middle-Earth Cover of Tolkien: A Dictionary by David Day

Little sister knows me well! Or, you know, remembered what I did some of my master’s work on.

Fiction

Cover of The Sea Road by Margaret Elphinstone Cover of Sold for Endless Rue by Madeleine E. Robins Cover of The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

Cover of Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson Cover of Heraclix and Pomp by Forrest Agguire Cover of The Wild Ways by Tanya Huff

Cover of The Future Falls by Tanya Huff Cover of Mélusine by Sarah Monette Cover of Mindscape by Andrea Hairston

Cover of Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly Cover of Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone Cover of Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone

Cover of Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch Cover of The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman Cover of Blue Remembered Earth by Alistair Reynolds

That’s a real mix of gifts, sales and randomness.

Audiobooks

Cover of Swordspoint audiobook by Ellen Kushner Cover of The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (audiobook)

I had credits to spend.

I also got a £20 Waterstones gift card, which I’ll be spending today, so watch out for next week’s haul, too… What’s everyone else been getting?!

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is “Top Ten Books I Read in 2014”. This one you can probably predict if you follow this blog, but I won’t leave you guessing. Also, links don’t show up on my theme very well, so I’ll just say now that all the titles are links to the reviews I wrote earlier in the year.

Cover of The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison Cover of The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany Cover of We Have Always Fought by Kameron Hurley Cover of My Real Children by Jo Walton Cover of The Movement by Gail Simone

  1. The Goblin EmperorKatherine Addison. Yep, you probably predicted this one. I just loved it to bits — I’d have happily gone back to page one and started all over again right away. I don’t think it’s for everyone, but it was pretty perfect for me.
  2. The King of Elf-land’s DaughterLord Dunsany. This is definitely not new to a lot of people, but it was new to me. I think I’d read one of Dunsany’s short story collections before, but not this one. It’s a lovely mythic/fairytale-like world. In style and the like, it’s not like the more typical modern fantasy, but that doesn’t put me off at all.
  3. We Have Always FoughtKameron Hurley. I haven’t read any of Hurley’s fiction yet; she may even be a writer who appeals to me more as a commentator than as a creator, since I did start God’s War at one point and put it down again. But I loved this collection of her essays. She very much deserved her Hugo.
  4. My Real ChildrenJo Walton. Again, probably predictable. I loved the characters in this — the sheer range of them, the ways small circumstances could change them. It was quite upsetting on a personal level because of the mentions of dementia, but the fact that it had the power to upset me only made me like it more.
  5. The Movement: Class WarfareGail Simone. I think this is a pretty timely comic. This sums it up, from my review: “[T]his is a group of young people getting together against injustice. Not supervillains: injustice. Crooked cops who beat poor people and POC because they can. The whole system of privilege and disprivilege. It’s a team of heroes for the Occupy Movement, for the 99%, for the disenfranchised.”
  6. Cuckoo SongFrances Hardinge. Read this all in one go on a train journey and resented every interruption. There’s a great atmosphere to this book.
  7. Behind the Shock MachineGina Perry. I’ve always been fascinated by Stanley Milgram’s experiments, and this was a great way of delving into them — looking at it not from Milgram’s point of view, not looking at the results, but at the people he used in this experiment.
  8. What Makes This Book So GreatJo Walton. This is kinda cheating, in that it’s a book chock full of the books Jo Walton likes. Not limited to a top ten, of course, but I have a feeling it could furnish the whole contents of this list.
  9. SpilloverDavid Quammen. Fascinating stuff, with some very obvious conclusions that apparently still need to be said. We are destroying habitats, forcing animals closer together and closer to us: we’re creating the perfect situation for a pandemic. It’s going to happen again, as it’s happened before, and we’ve just got to hope it isn’t something exotic and deadly. Even the flu is bad enough when it sweeps the world.
  10. The Broken LandIan McDonald. This is the only book in this list I didn’t give five stars. But it’s stayed on my mind the whole time, and the issues it examines aren’t temporary ones that’re about to go away.

Cover of Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge Cover of Behind the Shock Machine by Gina Perry Cover of What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton Cover of Spillover by David Quamnem Cover of The Broken Land by Ian McDonald

This is gonna be a really interesting week to check out other people’s lists; I’m looking forward to this! Make sure you link me to your list if you comment. I’ll always visit and comment back.

Stacking the Shelves

So, time for Stacking the Shelves a la Tynga’s Reviews! You know how I keep saying my haul post is going to be smaller “next week”? Well, next week it will be. I think? That’s the idea, anyway. Part of this I blame on going to Rainbow Rowell’s signing in Waterstones with Leah @ Uncorked Thoughts. I’d pick something up to look at it and she’d chip in with “that one’s good!”

Or I might just have no restraint. There’s always that explanation. Anyway, to kick off, here’s me with Rainbow Rowell!

Photo of me and my dorky grin, with author Rainbow Rowell

If you look closely you can see a little frog in the picture. Which means this is a good time to plug my friend’s art project: basically, she’s made a hundred of the blighters and over the last few months, she’s been ‘releasing’ them into the wild, a few at a time. If you find one, take a picture of yourself with it and then move it to somewhere new! Most are in England, West Yorkshire area, but I know some have gone to London, some have been released in Cardiff and Swansea, and some are travelling round the world. If you’re going to Loncon, I have two to release there, so keep your eye out for Sad Frog Project!

Waterstones haul

Cover of The Falconer by Elizabeth May Cover of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein Cover of Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon Cover of Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard Cover of Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan Cover of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart Cover of the special UK Collectors Edition of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

My copy of Fangirl was signed, of course. I still need to finish reading it… But I loved the way Rowell spoke about it, spoke frankly about Cath’s social anxiety, spoke with enthusiasm about fandom. So I’m very glad to have a signed copy. As for the others, some I’ve been planning to get for a while — Two Boys Kissing and Code Name Verity. Leah forced Take Back the Skies on me, and we talked about the others enough to get me interested.

Kobo store

Cover of Karma Girl by Jennifer Estep Cover of Futureland by Walter Mosley Cover of Heart of Veridon, by Tim Akers Cover of The Wanderer in Unknown Realms by John Connolly Cover of The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen Cover of Premonitions by Jamie Schultz Cover of Permanent Present Tense by Suzanne Chorkin Cover of Liars and Thieves by Karen Maitland

It’s a rather mixed bag, isn’t it? The first three were mentioned in books of essays I’ve been reading recently; I’ve enjoyed some of John Connolly’s other stuff; The Queen of the Tearling is getting interesting reviews; I thought my sister would like Premonitions but I’m gonna try it first; Permanent Present Tense is non-fiction and was mentioned in the neurobiology MOOC I’m doing; Liars and Thieves is a short by Karen Maitland, who I’m a big fan of!

Netgalley/e-ARCs

Cover of A Touch of Poison by Aaron Kite Cover of Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel Cover of The Copper Promise by Jen Williams Cover of The Godless by Ben Peek Cover of A Suitable Replacement by Megan Derr Cover of Blood Tells by Rachel White Cover of The Mapmaker's Daughter by Caroline Dunford Cover of The Passage of Pearl by Lynn E O Connacht

An interesting bunch — I’ve been interested by The Copper Promise for a while!

Bookbridgr

Cover of Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson Cover of The Vanishing Witch by Karen Maitland Cover of Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman

I think I’m in love with Bookbridgr. I’m certainly super happy about getting The Vanishing Witch! I don’t think I’ve crossposted any of my Karen Maitland reviews here so far, but I’m definitely a fan.

Library

Cover of Y: The Descent of Men by Steve Jones Cover of Coral by Steve Jones Cover of Blood & Guts by Roy Porter Cover of Jurassic Mary: Mary Anning and the Primeval Monsters by Patricia Pierce Cover of Darwin's Island by Steve Jones Cover of The Serpent's Promise by Steve Jones Cover of Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler Cover of Gloriana by Michael Moorcock Cover of My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor Cover of Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

Mostly non-fiction this week, as you can see; all my Steve Jones reservations came in, and I had a browse in the 610s-620s in the non-fiction section of the library. (Well, also the 560s, because dinosaurs.)

And finally

Comics

Cover of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Cover of The Movement volume 2 Cover of Ms Marvel #6

I didn’t actually magically get my hands on the second TPB of The Movement, but I thought it’d be silly to put up the cover of every single issue. So there y’go. And I imagine there’s no mystery as to why I picked up Guardians of the Galaxy.

Okay, I can’t believe how long this post has got, and I need to do a ton more things before I go to bed. When this goes live in the morning, I’ll already be out at the Race for Life, volunteering at a 10k event. And then on Sunday, I’m running in the 5k event. So I may not be very active this week, but I will visit back anyone that comments here, of course! Have a good week.

(Oh, and if you have some spare cash, sponsor me, please?!)

ETA: Except I can’t volunteer today due to travel problems, wah. But at least I’ll be around to chat to people!

Review – Green Lantern Corps: Fearsome

Cover of Green Lantern Corps: FearsomeGreen Lantern Corps: Fearsome, Peter J. Tomasi, Fernando Pasarin, Scott Hanna

On the one hand, this is a heck of an introduction to the Green Lanterns. There’s so many characters and concepts packed in, and I had to play a fair amount of catchup. I was never sure what was a New 52 innovation and what was established canon, how I should be judging the storyline. So I couldn’t tell you if someone was suddenly overpowered or turned into an enormous asshole.

I did enjoy it, though. It’s a bit thin on character because there are so many Green Lanterns in the story, but it gives us an introduction to the Corps and who they are, what they believe in. There are some interesting character moments for John Stewart, which I found intriguing: he makes some rough decisions and has to live with them, and does so honorably, to my mind.

I actually enjoyed this enough that I will pick up other Green Lantern comics in the future, at least to try.

Review – Superman: What Price Tomorrow?

Cover of DC's Superman: What Price Tomorrow?Superman: What Price Tomorrow?, George Pérez, Jesus Merino, Nicola Scott

This wasn’t as bad as I expected from the general trend of reviews on Goodreads. I don’t think I’m really a fan of DC’s stuff in general, though. I mean, I remember Superman in bright colours, as wholesome as Marvel’s Captain America, but here it’s all dark and broody. Maybe part of the problem is that I never read the comics before, but was a devotee of the tv series. No, not Smallville — Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman!

Anyway, this was… okay. I liked the redesign of Superman’s costume which keeps the important aspects of his iconic image and tweaks things we could do without (the underwear on the outside of his costume thing). I didn’t feel strongly about the art either way, though I did feel that the criticisms of the number of panels and cluttered pages are pretty valid.

The story is okay, but like I said, there’s a lot of dark and broody here, which I thought was more Batman’s line. There’s some stuff intended to make it relevant and modern, like the Daily Planet’s way of dealing with the move to digital media, but all in all, I don’t know how that works. In my head, the Daily Planet smells of paper and ink, and Metropolis never really joins the digital age.

So the only New 52 titles I’ve really been interested in following are Batgirl and Batwoman. Hmm.

Review – Wonder Woman: Guts

Cover of Wonder Woman vol. 2, GutsWonder Woman: Guts, Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, Tony Akins

I’m not really a fan of Wonder Woman, I think, at least not in this incarnation. I’m not fond of the character designs, except maybe for Strife (but she reminded me of someone else; maybe a Neil Gaiman character?) and Wonder Woman herself, and the plot just… Nah.

I can take some tweaks to my mythology (hello Thor), but this was strangely closer to the actual mythology and further from the spirit of the mythology. Or something. The bickering among the gods, Hera’s jealousy, etc — it all makes sense within Greek myth, but they seemed cardboard cutouty, which Thor and Loki do not.

Review – Wonder Woman: Blood

Cover of Wonder Woman: Blood by DC ComicsWonder Woman: Blood, Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, Tony Akins

This was one of the first DC books I picked up, I think, but I didn’t get round to it till now. I have to say I’m more fond of Batgirl — I’m not sure this was a very good introduction to Wonder Woman. I mean, there’s very little by way of explanation of her motivations going on. She just kills some stuff dead and finds out some secrets about her past.

It’s fun enough, and the art is good, and the mythology goes pretty well with actual Greek mythology (unlike, say, Marvel’s Thor). I think the review/s that mention it being a bit like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman have got something there, too.

In any case, I have the second volume already, so we’ll see how that goes. But I may not be buying any more Wonder Woman after that.

Review – Batgirl: Knightfall Descends

Cover of Batgirl by Gail SimoneBatgirl: Knightfall Descends, Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf, Ed Benes, Vicente Cifuentes

I think this might have been a stronger issue if I was up to date on some of the other New 52 stuff that I’m… not that interested in. Or maybe more of Barbara’s past, since this volume features the (re)introduction of her brother James, who I know nothing about. It all just about hangs together, and some parts of this felt much more satisfying in terms of Batgirl getting some decent villains to kick around, but other parts were… well, a villain called Grotesque who wears a mask and kills a man to try and get a bottle of — vintage wine?!

The art is strong, as with the first book, and I liked the cameos by Black Canary (must hunt up some of Gail Simone’s run on Birds of Prey) and Batwoman. Still not totally sure about that whole decision to bring Barbara back to being Batgirl as opposed to Oracle via a miracle cure, but overall, I’m still ready to follow more of Batgirl’s adventures.