Review – Superman: What Price Tomorrow?

Posted 23 April, 2014 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

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.

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Readathon stack

Posted 22 April, 2014 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

So it’s about time I did my readathon stack post, since Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is this weekend, and I’ll be hosting a challenge here (look out for it in hour 16 of the ‘thon). As always, I think most people on this blog are used to this, but for newcomers, there’s very little chance of me sticking very closely to this, but it’s a good jumping off point for me.

Because I like organising things and then ignoring my carefully put together lists, I’m gonna set up some categories and pick five books for each. The idea is to read at least one from each category.

Library:
-Diana Wynne Jones, The Islands of Chaldea.
-Clive Finlayson, The Humans Who Went Extinct.
-Ilona Andrews, Magic Burns.
-Rosemary Sutcliff, Knight’s Fee.
-Lisa Tuttle, The Silver Bough.

Netgalley/review copies:
-James A. Moore, Seven Forges.
-Danielle L. Jensen, Stolen Songbird.
-Cassandra Rose Clarke, The Wizard’s Promise.
-Jason M. Hough, The Darwin Elevator.
-Malinda Lo, Adaptation.

2011-2013 unread:
-Gillian Bradshaw, Magic’s Poison.
-Jennifer Pelland, Machine.
-Frances Hardinge, Fly By Night.
-Janny Wurts, That Way Lies Camelot.
-Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice.

2014 unread:
-Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl.
-Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale.
-Lisa Shearin, The Grendel Affair.
-Rachel Bach, Fortune’s Pawn.
-Jo Walton, Farthing.

Comics:
-Marvel, Young Avengers: Dark Reign.
-Marvel, Ultimate Spider-man: vol. 20.
-Marvel, Ultimate Spider-man: vol. 21.
-Marvel, Ultimate Spider-man: vol. 22.
-DC, Stormwatch: vol. 1.

Subject to some editing over the next few days as I sprawl all over the place reading.

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Review – House of M

Posted 21 April, 2014 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of House of M by Brian Michael Bendis.House of M, Brian Michael Bendis

House of M actually seems a bit old hat, coming to it after I’ve already read other crossover events and the aftermath of House of M, The Children’s Crusade. I’m trying to fit it together with some of the other comics I’ve read, and I’m a little unsure — Wanda’s children, how do they end up being Billy and Tommy from Young Avengers? When does that happen? That’s not really explained to my satisfaction anywhere in the story.

Did like the cast here, though it feels a little crowded. Spider-man gets some good lines, and I love that Ms. Marvel’s pretty important in this world. I’m not a big fan of Wolverine, and I don’t know much about Emma Frost, so their prominence wasn’t especially helpful for me.

All in all, it felt frenetic, more than a little crowded. I didn’t need background from other comics for it, but it felt like I would’ve liked it: so many people were referred to glancingly, and I know so little about them, or what I know is from Ultimates, or…

Anyway, it’s fun, but not an essential, I think.

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 19 April, 2014 by Nikki in General / 49 Comments

Aaaas usual for a Saturday, here’s my Stacking the Shelves post, a meme as hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It’s been a busy week!

Library

Cover of Astonishing X-men: Torn by Joss Whedon Cover of House of M by Brian Michael Bendis. Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction by Paul Bahn Cover of And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou Cover of There and Back Again: J.R.R. Tolkien and the Origins of the Hobbit by Mark Atherton

Books I Love So Much I Got Them Again For A Reread

Cover of The Steerswoman, by Rosemary Kirstein Cover of Farthing, by Jo Walton Cover of Ha'penny by Jo Walton Cover of Half a Crown by Jo Walton Cover of Among Others by Jo Walton

New

Cover of The Outskirter's Secret by Rosemary Kirstein Cover of The Lost Steersman by Rosemary Kirstein Cover of Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor Cover of Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan Cover of The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon Cover of The Disestablishment of Paradise by Phillip Mann

Review copies

Cover of A Kingdom Lost by Barbara Ann Wright Cover of The Very Best of Tad Williams Cover of Fool's Assassin, by Robin Hobb Cover of Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Comics (issues)

Cover of Ms Marvel Issue #3 Captain Marvel issue #2

Pre-order

Cover of My Real Children by Jo Walton

You can maybe sense a Jo Walton shaped theme going on here. I can’t wait for My Real Children, and decided to do some rereading while I’m waiting. Among Others should be especially interesting, as the first read had me very emotional and wrapped up in it, and my friends claim that they see me in it a lot.

Obviously, I’ve been excited about Dreams of Gods and Monsters for a while and I am so glad I finally have it. I’ve been looking for ARCs of Tropic of Serpents, too, and I haven’t read much Robin Hobb lately, but you better believe I’m excited about Fool’s Assassin. I’m surprised I got approved for it. I’m pretty excited by Half a King, too. In short, I’ve had a really lucky week.

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Review – The Holders

Posted 17 April, 2014 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of The Holders by Julianna ScottThe Holders, Julianna Scott

I love the ideas behind a lot of Strange Chemistry books, but when I get round to reading them, it ends up feeling like there’s something missing. Maybe it’s just that while I enjoy some YA, I tend to be picky, and maybe more critical of it. On the other hand, I do love other Strange Chemistry books fairly uncritically, so I don’t know. I mean, on the surface this is right up my alley: female protagonist, Irish setting, comparisons to the basic ideas behind X-Men, family bonds and conflicts… But somehow I never really got hooked.

There are some really great reviews out there for this book, and I’m somewhat inclined to write off my reaction to crankiness or bad timing, and maybe put it aside for later. Given the enormous length of my reading list, and how bad my current ratio is on Netgalley, I can’t justify reading the second book when I didn’t really enjoy this one. It’s not even that there was anything particularly bad about it — I’m not a fan of the destined love type trope, and I didn’t get super invested in the characters, but this isn’t a review to say this book is bad. Maybe ultimately just “not for me”.

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted 16 April, 2014 by Nikki in General / 0 Comments

What did you recently finish reading?
A couple of books I had to review that didn’t impress me very much, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus. I feel weird talking about liking/disliking Maus, given what it is, so I’m trying to steer clear of that. It was interesting, certainly, and worth taking the time to read.

What are you currently reading?
Most actively working on my reread of Wicked (Gregory Maguire), which I really do like more now I know the musical so well, somehow. I guess it’s a symbiotic sort of thing, experiencing it in multiple media and seeing it differently, etc. I’m also rereading Assassin’s Apprentice (Robin Hobb), since I’ve been approved for Fool’s Assassin, her new book.

My only new-to-me read at the moment, in terms of what I’m actively reading, is The Broken Land (Ian McDonald). I wasn’t very hopeful after looking at some reviews, but I’m actually really intrigued and drawn in.

What do you think you’ll read next?
I’m going to finish The Wizard’s Promise (Cassandra Rose Clarke) and Seven Forges (James A. Moore) next, possibly even tomorrow. I’ll be slower working on Wicked and Assassin’s Apprentice, since they’re rereads, but in general it looks like a mass reread of Robin Hobb’s work, plus trying to keep up with my review copies and such. Probably the next of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce books next, in that line.

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Review – Maus

Posted 16 April, 2014 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Maus, by Art SpiegelmanMaus, Art Spiegelman

It’s hard to figure out how to rate or review this. I mean, do you rate it as art? As a story? Or as non-fiction? As something in between, that nonetheless tries to express the truth? I quite liked Spiegelman’s style: the panels were maybe a little too busy at times, but the drawings had character and life.

More importantly, I think in writing his father’s story, Art Spiegelman managed to capture something we can be prone to forget: the Jews were not necessarily all nice people, all innocent victims and young girls like Anne Frank. There were greedy Jews, Jews who survived because they were quick-thinking and put themselves first, Jews with horrible opinions and so on. Art Spiegelman’s father Vladek isn’t a pleasant character in many ways, but what he goes through and the finer aspects of him show us that it doesn’t matter what kind of people the Jews who suffered and died were, they didn’t deserve Auschwitz and Dachau and all the other concentration camps. We don’t need an idealised innocent young girl to know what happened for the horror it was — that might make it easier on us, but to me it’s equally important to remember collaborators and cowards, the everyman and the rich banker and even the ones who stole each others’ food or lorded it over them to survive. Half of those horrors were created by the conditions anyway.

Which is to say… there were no perfect people. It’s a mistake to forget that, to forget that we’re still talking about humans all their messy glory. Maus reminds us pretty firmly that horrific things can happen to people who aren’t that nice themselves, and remain horrific.

So all in all, I don’t know that I like it much, but it’s one of those things where I have to consider the work that went into it and what it says, what it does, more than my personal enjoyment or not.

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Review – Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction

Posted 15 April, 2014 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction by Paul BahnArchaeology: A Very Short Introduction, Paul Bahn

This was okay, but honestly? If you’re interested in archaeology, watch out for the “Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets” course to run again on Coursera. It covers a lot of the same issues, but in more depth, with more examples, and obviously with the chance to interact with a lot more people/opinions (even if you just watch the videos). The assignments help you focus on and get to grips with the techniques and discussions.

This book is… much more basic. It’s very informal, often very personal to the author (as where he sneers at theories he doesn’t agree with, or makes snide comments about other people working in the field). There are some useful bits, and it’s certainly an easy (and very brief) read, but mostly I think you’d be better investing a bit more time in this, via Coursera or via other, better books.

One section that rather riled me was the whole bit about “feminist archaeology”, mostly using those scare quotes. Bahn falls into pretty much every pitfall in talking about feminism, claiming for example that the history of men is now going to be ignored, and comparing women to slaves who will want to be masters. Right. Thanks, dude.

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Review – Bull Running for Girls

Posted 13 April, 2014 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Bull Running for Girls by Allyson Bird

Bull Running for Girls, Allyson Bird

I didn’t get on with the writing style of these. It felt dry, and all the stories had the same feeling to them — something a bit too prone to explanation rather than action, which took the impact of some of the interesting ideas and creepy aspects away. I liked some of the ideas here, but the execution really didn’t work for me.

The stories are structured okay, and self-contained, but… I don’t know, altogether I felt they were lacking something.

(Received to review from the publisher via LibraryThing.)

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Review – Wonder Woman: Guts

Posted 13 April, 2014 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

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.

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