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Welcome to my first reading review post of 2016! I started to do this last year, as a better way to keep track of the stuff I’ve read, and I’m gonna try to stick to it this year too. It’s a little backdated, as I’ve read a lot this year, but it should contain reviews of the first 25 books I read this year. Same rules as last year apply, with recommendations marked with a + and violent dislike marked with a -. Cheerful flailing may be included.

...On with the show!



Batgirl, vol 3: the Lesson

It's a new year and a new look for Batgirl as superstar artist Dustin Nguyen joins the creative team! Stephanie Brown's second semester at Gotham U. starts like any other - new classes, new allies, a vigilante stalker - everything a gal could want! But what Gotham City's Batgirl isn't prepared for is the arrival of the mysterious "Order of the Scythe." Who are they, and why have they set their sights on her? "The Lesson" begins here!

This is the final volume of Steph’s Batgirl run (;;), and I feel like I’ve already gone on about it at length here? But oh well, because I LOVED IT. It was adorable, and super pretty, and just told a really great story that it was so much fun to get into. Steph is an absolutely wonderful character, and this definitely shows her off to her very best advantage. I cannot recommend this run highly enough, honestly. Go! Read it now! +

The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes From a Small Island – Bill Bryson

Over twenty years ago, Bill Bryson went on a trip around Britain to celebrate the green and kindly island that had become his home. The hilarious book he wrote about that journey, Notes from a Small Island, became one of the most loved books of recent decades, and was voted in a BBC poll as the book that best represents Britain. Now, for his first travel book in fifteen years, Bryson sets out again, on a long-awaited, brand-new journey around the UK.

I’ve been a fan of Bryson since my early teenage years, so of course I very cheerfully picked this up as soon as I was able. Bryson’s entire thing is travelling around a place and affectionately making fun of its inhabitants, and this was probably him at his finest. I’ve lived in the UK for most of my life, and Bryson’s observations really make me love the place afresh. Wonderfully fun, brilliantly amusing and a really lovely look at a country where I genuinely love living (until the Tories murder all us poor people, of course). I’d definitely recommend it if you want a glimpse at how bizarre the UK can be! +

Absolute All Star Superman

The Man of Steel battles Bizarro, Zibarro and more before facing the final revenge of Lex Luthor.

P got me this for Christmas, and I’m pleased to say that it was another fine present choice from him. I’d been meaning to read this for ages, and I’m so glad I finally got around to it. Superman done right, as a kind and friendly dude who always wants the best for his adoptive planet. I’m always stunned by how well Grant Morrison gets Superman, and there’s no exception here. Simply wonderful. +

Red Hood and the Outlaws, Vol. 1: Redemption

No sooner has Batman's former sidekick, Jason Todd, put his past as the Red Hood behind him than he finds himself cornered by a pair of modern day outlaws: Green Arrow's rejected sidekick Arsenal, the damaged soldier of fortune, and the alien Starfire, a former prisoner of intergalactic war who won't be chained again. As a loner, Jason has absolutely no interest in this motley crew of outlaws. So what's he going to do when they choose the Red Hood as their leader?

I’d heard a lot of not so good things about this comic going in, so was extremely wary of it. But, to my pleasant surprise, it turned out to not actually be that bad! I mean, it’s definitely not a groundbreaking comic and I’m still glad they eventually gently took Kori away from those guys – but it’s fun and fast moving and does do really interesting things with Jason. I’m not going to recommend it, as I know it won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but it definitely wasn’t terrible.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 2: Squirrel You Know It's True

The breakout character of 2015 continues her one-woman crusade against injustice and jerks! These TAILS of the Squirrel Girl will show you the Marvel Universe's most powerful super hero from a bunch of brand-new perspectives, several of them QUITE ASTONISHING.

Squirrel girl! Ah, man, I just love this comic so much. It’s super sweet and cheerful and fun, and is just the perfect dose of light in so many ways. Doreen is a joy, Nancy is even MORE of a joy and the whole atmosphere comes together to create something absolutely wonderful. It’s not the most profound comic of our time, but it’s certainly one of the most fun and I’d recommend it if you like such things as joy. +

Superboy Vol. 1: Smallville Attacks

Superboy is back in a brand-new ongoing series! Join Jeff Lemire (SWEET TOOTH) and amazing up-and-coming artist Pier Gallo as they take Superboy on a journey to a side of Smallville not even Superman knows about! What mysteries lurk beneath the surface of this all-American town - and what are their direct ties to Superboy? The start of the next great DC Universe epic begins

This was one that I picked up in a sale at some point, and I really enjoyed it! It’s another one that isn’t incredibly profound, but that is a solid and extremely interesting look at a character who I’ve always had a soft spot for. Superboy is written really interestingly here, his backing characters are great and the plot is really absorbing the majority of the time. I mean, he tries to hook up with his cousin at one point and that’s kind of weird – but otherwise it’s all generally lovely. I’m not going to recommend it, because it’s not quite as high quality as it should be at some points, but if you like Superboy then it’s definitely worth a go.

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 2: Generation Why / Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Crushed / Ms. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last Days

Kamala Khan continues to prove why she's the best (and most adorable) new super hero there is!

I read the first book of this series on the last day of last year, and very quickly caught up with the rest of them in the first few weeks of this year. This series has received a lot of hype, and in my opinion it was all pretty much entirely deserved. It’s a really sweet, big hearted look at a wonderfully interesting character. The only thing I can really say against it is that I ended up rolling my eyes at the teenage angst a bit, but even that felt in fitting with the general tone of the book. Definitely recommended! +

Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.

A lot of people on the internet liked this, and so I was really looking forward to it, but... I couldn’t really get into it. The plot was interesting, the characters were well developed but the writing style just kept throwing me out of the work completely. I’m sure it was a very good book, and I’m definitely glad it exists, but in the end it just wasn’t really for me.

Step Aside, Pops – Kate Beaton

Heathcliff! Wonder Woman! Feminists, hunks! Great men and women of history! Step aside – Kate Beaton is coming for you.

I’ve been a fan of Kate Beaton since before I went to university, so I was thrilled to finally pick up one of her collections! Beaton’s comics are a hoot. She’s a really funny writer and a really expressive artist, who always knows how to get the best out of the subject she’s writing on. As a result this collection is an utter joy to read, and I’d definitely recommend it to anybody who likes humour blended with history. +

Batgirl, Vol. 4: Fists of Fury

Can Batgirl survive a confrontation with Batman's archnemesis, the Joker? And if the Clown Prince of Crime wasn't enough, Batgirl must also overcome the lunacy of an ingenious scientist, face off against a Jokerized Shadow Thief, mentor a fellow female crimefighter, and defeat a trio of deadly assailants.

I said that I was worried about this series going downhill in my last post, and I’m pleased to say that I was wrong! This volume was a great return to form, and a really enjoyable one at that. Cass is great as a character, the stories seem to have found their stride again and both of those things combine together to create a glorious whole. I’m not going to recommend it, because you should probably check if the first volumes are to your taste first, but it was definitely a lot of fun and a good story for her!

Thor, Vol. 2: Who Holds the Hammer?

Who is Thor? That's the question on everyone's lips. Most especially Prince Odinson of Asgard. This volume, he starts to narrow down the list of suspects. Meanwhile, tensions continue to flare between the All-Mother and All-Father, Malekith forges his most dangerous pact yet, and Thor prepares to face her greatest challenge!

I liked this and I’m very glad that they’re doing what they’re doing with the character, but... There were some quite pronounced faults with this. The story was really interesting, but definitely seemed squashed short in some vital places. I liked the character work, I LOVE Jane as Thor, but I frequently found myself wishing that it had less of a focus on old!Thor and more of a focus on the actual main character. Good, but disappointing in how close it came to being great.

Ant-Man, Vol. 1: Second-Chance Man

Scott Lang has never exactly been the world's best super hero. Heck, most people don't even think he's been the best Ant-Man! And the last guy invented Ultron and joined the Masters of Evil, so that's saying something. But when Iron Man calls with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Scott's going to get a second chance to be the hero he's always dreamed of becoming!

I looooooooved this one. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but I definitely enjoyed it a hell of a lot more than I thought I would. The plot was very fun, the characterisation was great and I just really enjoyed the tone of it? The main thing I look for in comics is a feel good factor, and this one provided it in spades. If you’re looking for something that’s a hell of a lot of fun, this is a good place to start! +

Star Wars: Darth Vader, Vol. 1: Vader

As Vader pursues a very personal vengeance against the Rebels and investigates the Emperor's secret machinations, he clashes with weapons scavenger Aphra and deadly Battle Droids, and returns to Geonosis to build an army. But some very powerful people don't want him to learn the truths he seeks!

I must admit that I’ve been side-eyeing the Star Wars comics for a while now, but I’m pretty sure that I saw this in a sale and decided that it was worth a chance. And OH MY GOD IT SO WAS. Kieron Gillen, the writer of this volume, is quickly becoming one of my favourite writers in comics and this is a good example of why. It was incredibly funny, wonderfully touching and just a perfect look at one of the most iconic characters in film. Definitely recommended! +

A-Force Vol. 0: Warzones

An all-new book featuring Marvel's Mightiest Women! In a secluded corner of the Battleworld, an island nation is fiercely protected by a team of Avengers the likes of which has only ever been glimpsed before. Fighting to protect the small sliver of their world that's left, the Amazing A-FORCE stands shoulder to shoulder, ready to take on the horde!

This was another one that I quite liked, but felt that it could’ve been a lot better. It was a fun story with extremely interesting characters, but never really seemed to go anywhere and was a little hard to get invested in as a result. I suppose part of the problem is that I built it up in my mind a bit much, but it was still a touch disappointing and I would’ve liked them to do more with their very interesting concept.

Black Widow, Vol. 1: The Finely Woven Thread / Black Widow, Vol. 2: The Tightly Tangled Web / Black Widow, Vol. 3: Last Days

She may be an Avenger and an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., but the Widow has her own mission: to atone for her past as a KGB assassin. Her methods are dirty. Her heart is cold. But her work is flawless. On an undercover assignment in Russia, she finds that the Hand of God is reaching for her--and it's as merciless as its name. Outmatched by the brute force of this powerful new villain, Natasha discovers a deadly globe-spanning plot. It's a race against time, and the Widow has nowhere to turn for answers. The trail of blood and destruction will test her strength and cunning--but it may also test her faith.

Wow, that’s a long blurb.

But, yes, this series! I wasn’t expecting to particularly enjoy it, but I ended up absolutely LOVING IT. Masterfully told, with a wonderful grasp of character and absolutely beautiful art. It really deserves to be a definitive story for Nat, and it turned me from a casual fan of her to an absolutely burning one. It also made me really want to see more of her in the films, as I think some of the stuff here could be pulled off really interestingly. Definitely, definitely recommended! +

Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More

Hero! Pilot! Avenger! Captain Marvel, Earth's Mightiest Hero with an attitude to match, is back and launching headfirst into an all-new ongoing adventure! As Captain Marvel, a.k.a. Carol Danvers, comes to a crossroads with a new life and new romance, she makes a dramatic decision that will alter the course of her life - and the entire Marvel Universe - in the months to come.

I wasn’t so keen on the first issue of this, but after that it really picked up! An extremely fun space adventure, with an excellent set of characters and a whole lot of really interesting interactions. Kamala is still my favourite person under the Marvel name, but this proves that Carol is a pretty great character too. If you want to gain some familiarity with one of the best ladies around, there really is no better place to start! +

The Peripheral – William Gibson

The Peripheral by William Gibson is a thrilling new novel about two intertwined futures, from the bestselling author of Neuromancer

This one was... Okay? Interesting enough, with two fascinating main characters, but not really all that absorbing. The plot was a bit weak, every single character outside the main two was dull at best and really the author seemed more enamoured with his concept than was wise. It was a bit of a slog, really, and while there were good elements it was a firm example of style over substance.

Justice League, Vol. 2: The Villain's Journey

Now that the team's origin story is complete, we shift to the present-day Justice League! What has changed? Who has joined the team since? And why does Green Arrow want to join those ranks so badly? Plus, the birth of a new super-villain! Someone is out to get the Justice League and he is determined to show the world how mortal these godlike beings really are!

The second one in a row that was just okay! I really enjoyed the first volume of this series, but the second one just fell a little flat for me. There were good characters, but they were mishandled a lot. There was the possibility of a good plot, but it was largely ignored multiple times. There were interesting ideas, but they seemed to be squashed as soon as they were raised. It was still relatively enjoyable as a book, but I would’ve expected a lot better from it.

The Three – Sarah Lotz

Four simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he's right?

I really wanted to like this one, but it was another one that left me fairly cold. An interesting premise told in an interesting way, but none of the characters really grabbed me and the novelty wore off pretty quickly. Good enough, but possibly another one that was too in love with its concept to do it justice. Which is a disappointingly common trait in genre fiction, I find.

Adventure Time, Vol 1

It's ADVENTURE TIME! Join Finn the Human, Jake the Dog, and Princess Bubblegum for all-new adventures through The Land of Ooo.

COME ON GRAB YOUR FRIENDS.

I wasn’t expecting great things from this book, but to my surprise it turned out to be utterly excellent. A really fun and light story, in the style of my favourite bits of the show. It could’ve been just a money grabbing tie in, but instead it was a really sweet and interesting book with a lot of heart to it. I know that I’ve recommended a lot of fluffy light stuff so far, but this is my post so screw it. I’d definitely recommend picking this one up too! +



So, what’s next? This post is already a little backdated, but I’m going to try to do another one when I hit fifty books read. I’m not sure when exactly that’ll be, but based on my reading rate so far maaaaaaaybe this time next month if not a little sooner? Keep a weather eye on the horizon, is what I’m saying.

Hope you enjoyed! :)

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
ragnarok_08
Feb. 22nd, 2016 06:40 pm (UTC)
Those reviews are great :)
doreyg
Feb. 25th, 2016 03:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :D
ladymercury_10
Feb. 22nd, 2016 09:21 pm (UTC)
I was reading Ant-Man for a couple issues but I never finished it. How much is Cassie in it?
doreyg
Feb. 25th, 2016 03:33 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed it, but that's mainly because I like Scott a hell of a lot. Cassie is in it a fair amount, but it's not really her story and (unfortunately) she doesn't really have that much to do.
ladymercury_10
Feb. 25th, 2016 11:53 pm (UTC)
I like Scott a lot, too. Have you read FF?
doreyg
Feb. 26th, 2016 10:43 am (UTC)
He's such a lovable dork! I'm so fond of him. :D And I've read the first issue, but I need to read more!
likewinning
Feb. 23rd, 2016 01:54 am (UTC)
I love this series of Black Widow SO MUCH. It's some of the only Marvel that I'm still reading so I'm frequently a little shaky on what's going on with the other characters in it, but god, Naaaaat. Is there anyone more fantastic and amazing than Nat? And yeah, the art is fucking phenomenal; I love it to pieces.

RHATO is... yeah, it has it's not-so-great things. I think I was way more critical of it when I first started reading it and now I've maybe forgiven it a bit, or possibly just forgotten a lot. It also maybe helps that Red Hood & Arsenal is so fucking frustrating sometimes and not drawn by my bff Ken Rocafort (HOW PRETTY IS JASON IN RHATO HE'S LIKE A DISNEY PRINCE) so I'm nostalgic for the old days lol.

ps on a Jason note... Did you read Lost Days yet?
doreyg
Feb. 25th, 2016 03:37 pm (UTC)
It's sooooooooooo good. <3 I wasn't really that interested in Nat before, but this series basically changed that. She's such a badass! And so lovely! And I WANT TO SEE HER DO ALL THE THINGS WITH HER ADORABLE ACCOUNTANT SIDEKICK. <3

It's definitely not bad! I mean, I do side-eye certain bits a lot... But it is very enjoyable and very pretty. And has Jason being really adorable in it! So, yeah. It definitely has its problems, but they definitely don't put me off it completely. :)

Not yet! It's on my wishlist, though. I'm planning to get a bit more of Cass' Batgirl run this week, and then maybe get that next week? More Jason is always a good thing. :D
night_owl_9
Feb. 24th, 2016 01:23 am (UTC)
Great reviews!
doreyg
Feb. 25th, 2016 03:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :D
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )