Thursday, November 13, 2014

batgirl: wanted

batgirl: wanted 
collects issues #19-25 +Ventriloquist #1
gail simone & marguerite bennett, daniel sampere & fernando pasarin, jonathan glapion & marc deering
batgirl: deadline
collects issues #26-32
gail simone, fernando pasarin & jonathan glapion
dc comics
published 2013-2014

Batgirl struggles to continue fighting crime after being emotionally drained by the death of her brother, James, Jr.  With her relationships with Batman and her father strained, Batgirl faces one of Batman's most ruthless villains, The Ventriloquist, alone.

I am basically reviewing issues 19-34, plus Batgirl Annual #2 and Batgirl; Future's End #1.  Since I subscribe I read by issue, I don't want until the trade comes out, although that seemed to work out here for Volume 4!

I was really starting to get into this storyline.  All the stuff that was going on in Barbara's family life and dating life were moving along nicely.  I feel like Simone finally hit her stride.  While the Ventriloquist was creepy, like other villains she didn't get her chance in the spotlight and I think that's because of the crossovers that aren't listed here (so not really Simone's fault).  This is why the other day I mentioned the comic book black hole.  You find that the series you're reading crossing into another series so you think you'll just buy that issue in that other series, but then what if that series is really good will you feel like you're missing something if you just jump in?  Of course you will!  So you start buying comics left and right and it's a neverending black hole.

But the Knightfall storyline has been going on almost since the beginning, just before Death of the Family and it gets wrapped up rather nicely here before we switch over to the Veronica Mars edition of Batgirl.  (but more on that at another time)

I feel like there was still a lot more story to be told by Simone, but unfortunately, DC didn't see it that way.  At least we got an ending.

The #2 Annual was also great (I love Poison Ivy) but again, I knew I needed to pick up the New 52 Birds of Prey so that really set me back a bit.

Future's End was ..... interesting.

In the end I really did grow to love Simone's Batgirl and I wish she got to spend some more time delving into that character.  I'm continuing on with Fletcher and Stewart's Batgirl so we'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

batgirl: knightfall descends

batgirl: knightfall descends
gail simone & ed benes
collects issues #7-12
dc comics
published 2012

Batgirl Barbara Gordon faces foe after foe now that she's back in the role of Batgirl.  A deadly new gentleman killer, Grotesque, stalks the streets of Gotham City; The Court of Owls sets its sight on her father Commissioner Gordon; and an innocent woman sentenced to Arkham emerges more dangerous than the inmates she was locked up with!

One of the problems with trying to follow a comic book series is that you find yourself missing small details because they happened in another series.  Had you not read the Owl issues in the Batman series I think you would definitely feel like you were missing a bit of the puzzle.  But other things happen here or there and I'm constantly feeling like I need to be reading ALL THE DC.  Guess that means they're doing their jobs then, right?

Grotesque is another villain that got absolutely no page time other than a couple of panels where he waxes poetic on his desire to possess everything that would be considered 'the best'.  But why?  And who was he?  (To be honest, I'm a bit further ahead in the series, I'm just late reviewing these so I do know there could be a bit more on the horizon, but still as I'm reading it I feel like I don't really care what Grotesque is up to.)

It's like Batgirl is cycling through villains at record speed.  No one sticks around to play for any length of time and her story arcs are just little blips.  I've got to say, I don't think Gail Simone is really using Batgirl to the full of her potential here.  She skips around to every part of Barbara's life without ever really digging down deep and giving us anything below the surface.  Her relationship with her there one?  Is she ever there at home with her roommate?  Her relationship with her father?  One of the biggest in her life and nothing.  I just feel like there are so many missed opportunities here for some really great storytelling.

Monday, November 10, 2014

batgirl: the darkest reflection

batgirl: the darkest reflection
gail simone, ardian syaf & vincente cifuentes
collects issues #1-6
dc comics
published 2011

Barbara Gordon is finally back as Batgirl!  The nightmare-inducing brute known as Mirror is destroying the lives of Gotham City citizens seemingly at random.  Will Barbara be able to survive her explosive confrontation with this new villain, as well as facing dark secrets of her past?

I'm FINALLY getting around to reviewing these books.  I'm so behind on all this!

I'm taking into consideration that Barbara Gordon's return to the suit after everything that happened is a giant thing that must be addressed, but had I not already had a love for Barbara Gordon as Batgirl I might not have kept reading after this one.

There is very little character development on the villain side.  We're told a quick blurb about how they got from normal to nutso, but that's it!  The one issue of Gretel seemed out of place.  Barbara spends much of the issues mulling over her being out of shape and the psychological pitfalls to having been shot and left for dead.

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that because of course this is a big deal, I just wish that there was a little more time spent on the villains.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

snow white must die

snow white must die
nele neuhaus
minotaur books
published 2010

On a rainy November day police detectives Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodensetin are summoned to a mysterious traffic accident: A woman has fallen from a pedestrian bridge onto a car driving underneath.  According to a witness, the woman may have been pushed.  The investigation leads Pia and Oliver to a small village, and the home of the victim, Rita Cramer.  On a September evening eleven years earlier, two seventeen-year-old girls vanished from the village without a trace.  In a trial based only on circumstantial evidence, twenty-year-old Tobias Sartorius, Rita Cramer's son, was sentenced to ten years in prison.  Bodenstein and Kirchhoff discover that Tobias, after serving his sentence, has now returned to his hometown.  Did the attack on his mother have something to do with his return?  In the village, Pia and Oliver encounter a wall of silence.  When another young woman disappears, the events of the past seem to be repeating themselves in a disastrous manner.  The investigation turns into a race against time, because of the villagers it is soon clear who the perpetrator is - and this time they are determined to take matters into their own hands.

There was a LOT going on in this book.  Which is strange because everything basically circles around to one crime, but there were so many players that at times it was confusing to keep everyone straight.  You basically figure out the mystery, but then everything changes and you're left doubting.  There were a couple of things I felt were lost in translation and I found it interesting that they never say 'I went to jail' or 'I was in prison'.  It was always 'the joint' and 'the slammer'.

I also had a hard time with the fact that it was a bad thing for a 17 year-old to have a relationship with a 27 year-old, but then later on no one bats an eye 10 years later that a 17 year-old ends up with a 30 year-old.  Maybe there isn't really a romantic relationship there, but to me it was clearly implied,

Anyhow, there were some things I didn't think needed to be delved into so deeply, especially Oliver's personal life, but then I discovered this is actually the 4th book in a series, but only this and two others have been translated to English!

I did like the book.  It was a quick read once I sat down and actually started reading.  While it was, at times, confusing with so many players, it was fun to read and kept me on my toes.

fool moon

fool moon
dresden files #2
jim butcher
read by james marsters
published 2008

Meet Harry Dresden, Chicago's first (and only) Wizard P.I.  Turns out the 'everyday' world is full of strange and magical things - and most of them don't play well with humans.  That's where Harry comes in.  Business has been slow lately for Harry Dresden.  Okay, business has been dead.  Not undead - just dead.  You would think Chicago would have a little more action for the only professional wizard in the phone book.  But lately, Harry hasn't been able to dredge up any kind of work - magical or mundane.  But just when it looks like he can't afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise.  A brutally mutilated corpse.  Strange-looking paw prints.  A full moon.  Take three guesses.  And the first two don't count.  Magic - it can get a guy killed.

When I found out that James Marsters read for the audiobook versions of the Dresden Files I decided to give fiction audiobooks another try.

Marsters has a great voice, no doubt about it and I can fully believe him as the Harry Dresden character.  I was able to get through the whole book, although it took me weeks listening here and there.  I would drift off a time or two and have to rewind a bit, but it wasn't as bad as my previous attempts at fiction audiobooks.

The story itself was okay.  I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it.  It reminds me a lot of early Anita Blake.  I do like that Dresden isn't a tough guy.  Except for his magical abilities he's a pretty average guy.  His courage comes from his goodness.  But the pace and the subject matter is very similar to Anita Blake.  I think I would have enjoyed this more had a read it instead of listened to it so I will continue on with the series, but do the reading myself!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

the good girl

the good girl
mary kubica
harlequin mira
published 2014

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher.  One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend.  But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger.  With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand.  But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life.

A story told by several different point of views, The Good Girl is an intriguing mystery.  We get bits and pieces of the story told in the Before (the kidnapping) and the After (the kidnapping) from Mia's mother Eve, the investigator Gabe and the kidnapper Colin.  We don't hear anything from Mia's point of view until the end and I have some issues with that.

There are key points in the book that give away too much, which I don't think Kubica was trying to do, or at least I don't.  It felt like the ending was supposed to be a surprise, a twist, but I wasn't surprised.  In fact, I was slightly disappointed although it made for some good discussion fodder if you were to read this book with your book group.

Concerning the twist I have several issues, what doesn't make sense to me.  Looking back on those bits of the story being told there are things that don't make sense now having all the answers.  But it doesn't take away from the enjoyment of the book.  Not that there is a happily ever after ending.  In fact, the ending left me feeling sad and a little lost.

I'd definitely recommend this to someone.  So that I can discuss it with them afterward!

whiskey beach

whiskey beach
nora roberts
putnam adult
published 2013

For more than three hundred years, Bluff House has sat above Whiskey Beach, guarding its shore - and its secrets.  But to Eli Landon, it's home.  A Boston, lawyer, Eli has weathered an intense year of public scrutiny and police investigations after being accused of - but never arrested for - the murder of his soon-to-be-ex wife.

He finds sanctuary at Bluff House, even though his beloved grandmother is in Boston recuperating from a nasty fall.  Abra Walsh is always there, though.  Whiskey Beach's resident housekeeper, yoga instructor, jewelry maker, and massage therapist, Abra is a woman of many talents - including helping Eli take control of his life and clear his name.  But as they become entangled in each other, they find themselves caught in a net that stretches back for centuries - one that has ensnared a man intent on reaping the rewards of destroying Eli Landon once and for all.

I enjoy Nora Roberts female characters.  They know when to be tough and know when they can't do something on their own.  For Whiskey Beach I liked how this was Eli's story more than Abra's.  He was the main character.

What to say that hasn't been said about Nora Roberts's books?  This had a little less mystery than others, the male was the main character, the setting, while important, wasn't as vast as others.....Usually you get a better sense of the town the story takes place in, but this story mainly takes place inside Bluff House.  I wasn't surprised by the killer and I didn't get too much of a sense of characters other than Abra and Eli.

I was hooked and once I got started a tore through the book, but I wouldn't say this was on par with other Nora Roberts books.

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