Saturday, May 31, 2014

batwoman: world's finest

batwoman: world's finest
j. h. williams & w. haden blackma
dc comics
published 2013

Batwoman's search for Medusa brings her together with the Amazing Amazon, Wonder Woman, but even the teaming of the World's Finest might not be enough to bring down the mythological monster -- leading Bones, the DEO, Abbot and the Religion of Crime all descend on Gotham City to take part in the fight.


Basically, that's what I felt about this volume.  I was hoping I'd really like this series, especially since Suicide Squad was ending and I could subscribe to another comic.  But it won't be Batwoman.

It wasn't bad, it just wasn't great.  It took so long to get some sort of closure in this story arc I really wanted to see it through, but halfway through I just wanted it to be over.  So much inner dialogue.

I'm just not into Batwoman.

the museum of extraordinary things

the museum of extraordinary things
alice hoffman
historical fiction/romance
published 2014

Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses.  An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father's "museum," alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle.  One night Coralie stumbles upon a stiking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father's Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor's apprentice.  When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman's disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie.

I was incredibly disappointed in this book.  I admit, my opinion is colored in the fact that I don't usually enjoy historical novels, but really it was not a good book.  I think Alice Hoffman wanted to badly to write about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the fire of Dreamland in 1911 that she completely neglected the plot.  This was touted as a the story of two characters who come together and fall in love while surrounded by the mystery of a missing girl and while, for the brief moment Eddie was searching for the girl it was interesting.  And then, she wrapped that up with hardly a peep in a couple of pages and that was the end of that.  After that it was all about the fire of Dreamland.  Even that was disjointed and hard to follow.  I couldn't figure out how everyone ended up where they were and the culmination of the horrors in the book all come down to one short moment with hardly any fanfare at all.  It was a let down.

And as far as the love story was concerned, it was a joke.  I felt nothing for either character.  I could care less how they got together - which happens so far into the book I was beginning to think they book jacket lied to me.  Flat, unsympathetic, boring characters, and unrealistic relationships (Coralie and her father, Coralie and Maureen, Coralie and Eddie).  The characters I enjoyed (Beck, Ella, the liveryman, and Mr. Morris), the characters she wrote to have fire and substance were background characters we hardly got to see.  It felt like she poured all character into these roles and didn't save anything for Coralie and Eddie.

The writing itself was confusing and repetitious.  With the three different narratives the timeline jumped around oddly and there was so much overlapping that I sometimes thought I had accidentally jumped a previous chapter on the kindle.

A disappointment.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

batwoman: to drown the world

batwoman: to drown the world
j. h. williams & w. haden blackman
dc comics
published 2012

MEDUSA.  Taking its name from the horrifying creature of myth, this global conspiracy of crime has taken its war against goodness to Gotham City.  There, its sinister agents prey upon Gotham's children, using the guises of urban legends.  Ghosts in the mirror searching for bloody retribution.  Monsters in the sewer hungering for innocent lives.  Crazed specters spreading their pain in a tide of blood.  Brutal killers wielding death with a hook-bladed hand.

At MEDUSA's dark heart stands the Mother of Monsters.  Her goal is to drown the world in darkness.

It's bugging me that 1) this story is taking so long to wrap up and 2) the disjointed flip-flopping of the story.  Switching from character to character isn't a big deal, but the time lines going back and forth really irked me.  I like a good, even flow to my books.

There's a whole lot of supernatural in Batwoman's world.  More so than Batman and yet they are from the same Gotham.

I don't think I'll keep reading Batwoman, but I do want to see how this story ends.

monster, vol. 2

monster, vol. 2
naoki urasawa
viz media
published 1995

An ice-cold killer is on the loose, and brilliant Dr. Kenzo Tenma is the only one who can stop him!  Conspiracies, serial murders, and a scathing indictment of hospital politics are all masterfully woven together in this compelling manga thriller.

Tenma springs into action when he discovers that Johan, the boy whose life he saved nine years ago, has grown up and turned into a serial killer.  But when Tenma finds out that Johan has strong inside connections with government officials, he realizes that this monster is far more powerful than he could have ever imagined.

Dr. Tenma is searching desperately for clues to Johan & his twin sister's whereabouts, sure that more murders will happen soon if he can't find them.  He teams up with a reluctant reporter and together the try to connect the dots that will ultimately lead them to terror.  The story builds within every page, tension is rife throughout the entire book.  How is that possible?!

The manga reads like a novel, rich and satisfying, but seriously terrifying as well.  I think it's time to rip into this series!

snail mail

my first attempt at sewing patterns on envies

About six months ago I filled out my first form to be matched with a pen pal on the International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club.  I was matched up with another Geek Girl who loves Batman & comics and we've exchanged a couple of letters.  While I was on one of the boards there I joined the reading group (shocker) and another member told me I should check out the League of Extraordinary Pen Pals if I wanted to write/receive more letters.

On the outside the main difference between the two is that the IGGPPC is free and LEP exists on a monthly subscription, but really, that's not all.  On IGGPPC, you get paired based on your interests.  Every month they have an open round and when it's over you're paired, they send each of you an email and you take it from there.  Easy, peasy.

With LEP you decide if you want to pay month by month, or from three months, six months or a whole year.  After you've paid you fill out a form that has your pertinent info and interests and you're directed to join the Facebook page, a closed group page for LEPeeps.  After a day or two you are sent an email with the database.  The database contains all the info you will need to start sending letters.  

my workstation.  hello mr. fillion!

LEP has their main FB group, a reading group, a fountain pen lovers group, a yarn crafters group and a flea market group where members can trade or sell stuff.  There are also off shoots.  One member is doing a project for school and started a group with LEP members for research and another member started a group for her traveling Wreck This Journal project.  The group is very close, very active and it's almost as much fun as writing and receiving letters!

my first batch of envies with the envelope punch board

When I first started I was amazed by everyone's beautiful envelopes and stationery art work.  Washi tape, stickers, envelope punch boards are must-haves when you start your snail mail journey.  Well, they're not must-haves, but you will find yourself coveting them and soon enough you'll have a ridiculous collection and you won't really know how it happened!  

washi tape & stickers, your unnecessary must-haves

I really do love writing letters and getting to know people through written word.  It's nice to keep in touch with friends through Facebook, texts and emails, but there is something sweeter about snail mail.  The time it takes someone to write their letter and mail it makes things more precious.

some postcards to send out random happy mail

Every day that you find a pretty piece of mail in your mailbox you feel like a kid on Christmas Day.  You'll find yourself thinking of new ways to decorate your letters & envelopes and just sending random postcards or greeting cards just because.  I have around 36 pen pals.  It sounds crazy, but surprisingly easy to keep up with.  Of course, at times I get behind and my reply pile will be 20+ deep, but when the writing bug hits you get those letters out and a few more surprise happy mail packets.
 a thank you card i made

The best part about all of this is that it's brought out a crafty side I really didn't think I had!  I'm addicted to watching tutorials on youtube and checking out the picture of the mail other LEPeeps post of mail they're sending out to get inspiration.  In addition to writing letters I've been rubber stamping and my Mother's Day present this year was a Big Shot die cutter and embossing machine that has been so much fun to play with!  I also learned to knit this year which was/is so exciting to me!

my first knitting project

With all these new found hobbies I now have I've decided to bow out of a portion of my reading challenges.  It bums me out to do it, but I want to enjoy everything I'm doing and not be stressed about books I need to read.  While I am bummed, I'm also not because I know I had signed up for way too many challenges this year!  So I'll go through and figure out which challenges I'm still going to attempt.  I'm going to lower my overall goal to 200.

So that's what I've been up to lately, which explains the lack of book reviews.  Hopefully, I'll keep up with blogging and go back to doing more non-book posts.  A pen pal has convinced me to try the #100HappyDays project so maybe I'll post about that too, but we all know how well I do with consecutive day photo challenges!

 If you're interested in getting your own pen pal IGGPPC is currently in open round 14 so check them out!

Friday, May 16, 2014

batman: the wrath

batman: the wrath
mike barr & tony bedard
dc comics
published 1984

The Dark Knight is a man propelled by purpose, driven by a mission of justice.  He has honed his mind and body as the perfect weapon against evil.  But what if there was a man with all the same skills working against him?  The Wrath's contempt for law enforcement rivals Batman's hatred of criminals.  However, unlike the Caped Crusader, he hunts his prey with deadly force.  Setting his sights on Commissioner Gordon, the Wrath will stop at nothing to kill every cop in his way.  It's up to Batman to stop his mirror image before he can accomplish his goal.  On this case, Batman is literally his own worst enemy!

I love the old Batman comics.  Don't get me wrong, I really love the New 52 Scott Snyder Batman, but there is something so charming and sweet about the early Batman stuff.  I don't know what it is, maybe he was more human?  Had more emotion?  More empathy?  He showed surprise and regret.  Something.

There's a 24 year gap between The Wrath and The Wrath Child, the two stories that encompass this book.  Which is good because at the end of The Wrath you don't have any idea why he was after Jim or killing cops or who he was.  The Wrath Child wraps everything up for us and brings some closure to the story arc while also giving Robin/Nightwing a part in the story that he didn't have before.

A quick, but satisfying read.

batman: the joker's last laugh

batman: the joker's last laugh
chuck dixon
dc comics
published 2001

They say that dying is easy, while comedy is hard.  But what happens when you combine the two?  For the Clown Prince of Crime, a diagnosis of terminal cancer means that it's time for his final performance - and it's going to be a real showstopper.  Because if the Joker is going down, he's going to take everyone with him - and all the heroes of the DC Universe may not be enough to stop the laughter.

I think the only reason why this is titled as Batman is because Joker is Batman's villain, but the Bats is not the focus here.  If anything, I would say Oracle and Nightwing are carrying this story.  But what was annoying about the story was it was incomplete!  There are places where it has an * with the note that if you want to 'read more about this battle' read Nightwing issue whatever.  What?!  Super boo!

But there's so much going on and everything just kind of scrapes the surface.  The whole prison break is so full of sci-speak that I found myself literally nodding off.  The villains are easily dispatched when members of the JLA and the rest of the Bat-family step in.  The art is good, but again a little too cartoony for me.  If you want to read a good Joker story I suggest The Killing Joke, but the part with Harley Quinn did crack me up!

batman: the black mirror

batman: the black mirror
scott snyder
dc comics
published 2011

A series of brutal murders pushes Batman's detective skills to the limit and forces him to confront one of Gotham City's oldest evils.  Helpless and trapped in the deadly Mirror House, Batman must fight for his life against one of Gotham City's oldest and most powerful evils!

Then, the corpse of a killer whale shows up on the floor of one of Gotham City's foremost banks.  The event begins a strange and deadly mystery that will bring Batman face-to-face with the new, terrifying faces of organized crime in Gotham.

Now, I don't know if I just needed to get used to it or if it was Scott Snyder's writing, but Dick's Batman has grown on me.  But Scott Snyder definitely writes brilliantly.  In my opinion this is a must read for fans of Batman.  The Skeleton Key story was by far my favorite.  Creepy, personal and something that has always been lurking in the shadows, Snyder brought it all to light and it was amazeballs.

I really just can't say enough how much I love Snyder's work.  I can't.  He wrote a confident, but not arrogant Dick who is both flawed and perfect as Bruce Wayne's Batman ever was.

Read it.  You won't be sorry.

batman: life after death

batman: life after death
tony s. daniel
dc comics
published 2009

With Batman pounding the pavement in search of a new crime figure calling himself Black Mask and the completion of the new Arkham Asylum looking close, Gotham City has reached a boiling point!  But when pandemonium breaks out at the inaugural ceremony of the new Arkham Asylum, the combined forces of Oracle, Huntress and Catwoman aren't enough help for Batman and The Caped Crusader takes on an unlikely ally - The Penguin!

I'm just going to say it.  I don't like Dick Grayson as Batman.  I want him to be Nightwing and I want Bruce Wayne to be Batman!  *end whiny kid rant*

I'm not entirely sure then if I didn't care for Life After Death because Grayson was Batman or because I just didn't like it.  Thinking about it now I realize how this volume is basically other people playing parts they never should have played.  Batman & Black Mask, both impostors!

There was a bunch of stuff going on and things were confusing at points and then it would drag for a bit to the point where I was almost bored.  Too bad.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

batman r.i.p.

batman r.i.p.
grant morrison
dc comics
published 2008

In mind, body and spirit, Batman has trained himself to the peak of human ability.  But even the World's Greatest Detective has his limits - and now he has an enemy who knows exactly where they are.

I have got to admit, reading this was .... strange.  I liked the artwork and the Joker is magnificent.  I love the creepy, skinny, truly insane Joker best, but Zur-En-Arrh Batman?  And the chubby little Batman cherub?  It lost all kinds of credibility for me there.

Not to say that it wasn't good or that Batman should never be wacky because I think every once in awhile it should be a tension breaker, but this didn't feel like someone having fun, it felt like someone was trying to take it seriously.

That said it was a good read for the most part except I could have done without the last two stories which, for me, just ended up being confusing.

batman: under the red hood

batman: under the red hood
judd winick
dc comics
published 2003

Batman is confronted with a hidden face from the past - it's the return of the vigilante Red Hood who appears to be Batman's one-time partner Jason Todd, the same Jason Todd that died many years ago.  But the Red Hood's violent ways pit him against the Dark Knight in his hunt for the very person responsible for his death: The Joker.

One of the most iconic Batman images for me, and for many others I would expect, is the four volume paperback cover with Batman on the floor cradling a broken and bloodied - and dead - Robin.  So when Red Hood showed up it was a little confusing.  Sure, there have been resurrections in the DC universe, but I had missed this one entirely.

Under the Red Hood is fantastic.  Jason Todd is back (again as we 'saw' him in Hush) and he is determined to clean up the streets of Gotham in a way that Batman was never capable of doing.  He sees Batman's morality as a weakness and while he's working way at Black Mask's hold on Gotham he's actually setting the stage for his ultimate showdown with the man who he thought of as a father.

Gripping, tightly wound and emotional.

batman: false faces

batman: false faces
brian k. vaughn
dc comics
published 2000

The Dark Knight has always managed to balance his double life as Batman and billionaire Bruce Wayne.  But what happens when leading a double life becomes too much for him to handle?  Up against his old enemies the Ventriloquist and the Mad Hatter, the guardian of Gotham City must keep it together in the face of their criminal endeavors...although his greatest adversary may be his own secret lives.

And when classic Batman villain Clayface decides to play a deadly new role, it's Wonder Woman who finds herself fighting to survive an identity crisis of her own.

Three short and unrelated stories all centered around identity.  Batman's, Bruce Wayne's, the villains and those around them.  I expected a little more being Brian K. Vaughn, but it is his earlier stuff.  I did feel like it was written for a younger set, especially the artwork, it had a more cartoony look to it.  I guess I'm just used to the darker Batman books.

the cruelest month

the cruelest month
armand gamache #3
louise penny
st. martin's minotaur
published 2008

Welcome to Three Pines, where the cruelest month is about to deliver on its threat.

It's spring in the tiny, forgotten village; buds are on the trees and the first flowers are struggling through the newly thawed earth.  But not everything is meant to return to life....When some villagers decide to celebrate Easter with a seance at the Old Hadley House, they are hoping to rid the town of its evil - until one of their party dies of fright.  Was this a natural death, or was the victim somehow helped along?

Brilliant, compassionate Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of thSûreté du Québec is called to investigate, in a case that will force him to face his own ghosts as well as those of a seemingly idyllic town where relationships are far more dangerous than they seem.

Finally!  The Arnot case, which has been hinted at throughout the last two books has been revealed in its entirety and Armand's betrayers are exposed at last.  That's not to say the repercussions of the case are not over, but at least everything seems to be out in the open and as a reader I'm no longer wondering what it was all about.

I really want to go to Three Pines.  Even though in these three books a murder has occurred in this tiny town, it still sounds beautiful and charming.  The characters are rich and so full of life you can picture them clearly in your head.  There is so much more going on in the story than the murder Gamache and his team are investigating.

In the first books I wasn't the biggest fan of Peter Morrow, but with Clara I find myself rooting for her the most.  I think it's because Clara is truly good and honest and loves Peter absolutely.  Despite her own insecurities with her art she wants Peter to succeed.  Peter, on the other hand, while I don't doubt that he loves Clara seems to go out of his way to sabotage his wife's success.  And even when he feels guilty about it he does nothing to fix what he has broken.  I wonder if this will come back to haunt them in books to follow.

Penny has a way of weaving a murder mystery that keeps you from knowing the killer until she is ready to reveal that person.  It doesn't come out of left field like some authors write or become so obvious that you don't even care to read the rest of the book.  She just keeps you guessing until the end.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


pretty little liars #9
sara shepard
published 2011

It's been a year since the torturous notes from A stopped and the mystery of Alison DiLaurentis's disappearance was finally put to rest.  Now seniors in high school, Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily are older, but they're not any wiser.  The pretty little liars have more secrets than ever - twisted secrets that could destroy the perfect lives they've worked so hard to rebuild.

Aria's jealous of her boyfriend's new exchange student.  Spencer's getting a little too cozy with her soon-to-be-stepbrother.  Hanna's one scandalous photo away from ruining her dad's Senate campaign.  And Emily will do anything to get a swim scholarship.

Worst of all: Last spring break in Jamaica, they did something unforgivable.  The girls are desperate to forget that fateful night, but they should know better than anyone that all secrets wash ashore...eventually.

Oh god it's neverending.  NEVER. ENDING.  I know that when you read some fiction there's a suspension of belief, but Shepard has really taken this too far.  I can't even talk about this, it's ridiculous.  These girls are seriously idiotic.  Emily is still the dumbest one of the group.  Holding on to things she needs to literally let go of.

I don't care if any of these girls die.  I seriously hope the series ends on that note.  There is nothing good about these girls!  The worst part is, they have no idea how horrible they are!  They act like they do, but they have no remorse of sense of right.  I'm calling it people.  I cannot read any more of this crap!

every secret thing

every secret thing
laura lippman
william morrow
published 2003

Two little girls banished from a neighborhood birthday party take a wrong turn down an unfamiliar Baltimore street and encounter an abandoned stroller with an infant inside.  What happens next is shocking and terrible, and three families are irreparably destroyed.  

Seven years later, Alice Manning and Ronnie Fuller, now eighteen, are released from "kid prison" to begin their lives over again.  But the secrets swirling around the original crime continue to haunt the parents, the lawyers, the police - all the adults in Alice and Ronnie's lives.  And now another child has disappeared, under freakishly similar circumstances.

There was hardly a redeemable character in this book.  Alice and Ronnie, Alice's mother, her defense attorney, the young reporter, even the baby's mother.  None had qualities I found I could relate to or root for.  Near the end I found myself feeling sorry for Ronnie who seemed to have been screwed over the most.  For some reason the two I disliked the most were Alice and Cynthia, the mother of the baby in the stroller.  At first it was because who leaves her baby on her front porch unattended?  Then when that was explained I still couldn't find any sympathy for her because she just seemed like such a terrible person.  And who's to say that I wouldn't react the same way she did if that were my situation?  I probably would.

I did find the detective Nancy to be a genuinely good person who kind of got the short end of the stick in her rookie days.

But all in all the book was relatively disappointing to me.  Everyone got away!  The one who deserved redemption paid the price for all the idiots.  Some things I didn't understand the point of.  Mira's character?  Annoying and unnecessary.  And then she gets rewarded in the end?  When she didn't even have a story?  It was all so pointless.  I didn't need a happy ending, but I did want a justified one.

Monday, May 12, 2014

the drifting classroom, vols. 3-11

the drifting classroom, vol. 3
the drifting classroom, vol. 4
the drifting classroom, vol. 5
the drifting classroom, vol. 6
the drifting classroom, vol. 7
the drifting classroom, vol. 8
the drifting classroom, vol. 9
the drifting classroom, vol. 10
the drifting classroom, vol. 11
kazuo umezu
viz media

Out of nowhere, a Japanese elementary school is transported into a hostile world.  Soon, the students and teachers must struggle to survive in impossible conditions, besieged by terrifying creatures and beset by madness.

It took me two days but I finished the series.  After finishing the second one I couldn't stop thinking about what happened to the kids and had to find the rest of the series so I could read it all.  This is a series that I would recommend getting each volume so you can start the next one after you finish a volume.  Every volume ends on a cliffhanger and you will need to know what happens immediately!

Sho & Sakiko are excellent heroes.  They never gave up and most of all, never gave in.  They weren't out to just take care of themselves, or even just take care of their friends, but they were trying their hardest to try to keep all the children alive.  And even when the adults were losing their shit and trying to kill them Sho did his best to not kill if he had an option.

It is one disaster after the other and every moment of hope is dashed almost right away, but it is gripping and horrifying.  I could not stop reading until I reached the end!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

the drifting classroom, vols. 1 & 2

the drifting classroom, vol. 1
the drifting classroom, vol. 2
kazuo umezu
viz media
published 1974

In the aftermath of a strange earthquake, an entire elementary school vanishes, leaving nothing but a hole in the ground.  While parents mourn and authorities investigate, the students and teachers find themselves somewhere far away...somewhere cold and dark...a lifeless, nightmarish wasteland in which their school stands like a lone fortress.  As panic turns to terror, as the rules start to fall apart, a sixth-grade boy named Sho and his friends must fight to survive in an alien world....

These books are terrifying!!  The first book merely sets up the story.  A huge earthquake lasting three minutes rips through the town and when it's all over an entire school and everyone in it has disappeared, leaving a giant hole in the ground.  When we next see the students and teachers the school is surrounded by sand with nothing else as far as they can see.

As reality sets in the adults seem to go nuts while the kids hold it together and try to save each other.  By the time the second book comes around it's just simply madness!  Complete edge of your seat, disbelief and horror.  Quite fantastic!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

dancing barefoot

dancing barefoot
wil wheaton
published 2003

There are five stories, spanning 30 years, between these covers.  Some of them are funny, one is pretty damn sentimental, but they are all true.  I wrote them shortly after my 30th birthday, as I looked to my past in an attempt to understand my present, and not fear my future.
Wil Wheaton writes five short, but sweet and insightful stories about love, loss and growing up but remaining a kid at heart.  While all the stories had their high points, the longest story The Saga of SpongeBob VegasPants was my favorite because it had a bit of everything.  I think that the most endearing thing about Wil Wheaton is that he is still unsure of himself.  He is confident when it comes down to it and he's in his element, but before he finds his bearings he's sort of just this normal guy who really wants to make people happy.

And his recounting of meeting WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER was painfully sweet.

astonishing x-men, vol. 4: unstoppable

astonishing x-men, vol. 4: unstoppable
issues #18-24 + giant sized x-men #1
joss whedon & john cassaday
marvel comics
published 2008

After the shocking and brain-smashing events of Torn, the X-Men are off to protect the Earth from destruction at the hands of the Breakworld.  And when it's all over, nothing will ever be the same!

Oh, I'm bummed.  That really bummed me out.  But it was freaking good and I can see how people really get into this X-Men stuff.  I doubt I'll continue reading this series since this is where Joss's hand leaves the table, but maybe.  Maybe I need to know what happens to the cat chick.

And see!  There's another thing that bugs me about X-Men!  They have too many names!  I can't keep them straight.

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