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Hi, it's me again! :DD

This is officially my eighth reading review post of the year, taking the total up to 200 books. 200 books! That's about double my goal for the year, so I'm absolutely and utterly thrilled with how that has all turned out. I've definitely exceeded my expectations for this year, and I look forward to sharing the results with you.

Normal rules are still in effect. Things I really like and would rec are marked with a +, things I really didn't like and would thus anti-rec are marked with a -.

Now, on with the show and I hope you enjoy!



Thors: Battleworld

The Thors of every domain, together in one book! As cosmic cops! Whenever there's trouble on Battleworld, the Thors answer the call. But a string of mysterious murders leaves some of them asking questions that may unravel all of reality! A hard-hitting Marvel Comics police drama. With hammers. Lots and lots of hammers.

I really, REALLY liked this!

I'm a sucker for detective stories, as you can probably guess if you've spoken to me for five seconds before, and this captured the tone of them absolutely perfectly. It was a very interesting hardboiled noir thing, with an excellent use of character and surprisingly complex worldbuilding for what it was.

I will confess, I wasn't expecting much from this. But then I read beyond the first issue, and I fell absolutely in love. If you like detective stories and tightly plotted comics, this is definitely the thing for you. +

The Stranger / The Alien / The Secret / The Android / The Forgotten / The Reaction / The Change - KA Applegate

Life on Earth is pretty different for Ax. But there is one thing he, Cassie, Marco, Jake, Rachel and Tobias have in common. Something that one alien, four kids, and a hawk know they have to do: stop the Yeerks...

So, yeah, I may have binge read these a little. Oops?

Except not so much oops, because these books remain AMAZING. They're incredibly tightly plotted, with excellent characters and a really strong sense of the message that they want to convey. War is hell in these books, it isn't glamourised and it isn't glossed over, and the way that Applegate lets the effect of it slowly show on these formerly innocent kids... Well, I think perfection is probably the word for it.

I think either The Android or the Reaction was my favourite of this bunch. But, honestly, I loved them all and would recommend them all as a result! +

Batgirl, Volume 3: Mindfields

Batgirl's about to lose the greatest weapon in her arsenal...because her mind is failing her! Are her ragtag group of allies ready to pick up the slack? And while Batgirl is down, it's Black Canary to the rescue to discover the identity of a malevolent mastermind menacing Burnside!

Meeeeeeeeh.

I started off really liking this run of Batgirl, but as time went on the problems within it became more and more evident to my increasing frustration. It's just so... Frustratingly twee, a lot of the time. The character conflict feels muted, the plots kept getting increasingly circle jerky and even the art started to grind my teeth after a while.

I did like a lot of the characters involved! And I still have some fondness for the prettiness of the art, and I did think that several plot points in this volume were well done. It's just...

Well.

Pre-2011, I think Barbara had conclusively moved past the role of Batgirl and was a far better character for it. She was a bit like Dick in her way, having moved from the kid sidekick to a slightly more mature and complex position. But while Dick was allowed to keep his development in the wasteland world of the NU52, Barbara seems to have been dragged back quite comprehensively and that's only getting more obvious as time goes on.

IDK. I wouldn't anti-rec it? But I certainly had huge problems with this volume, and am kind of glad - although also kinda sad, because the next run is not much better so far - this run is over.

Runaways, Vol. 1: Pride and Joy / Runaways, Vol. 2: Teenage Wasteland

Meet Alex, Karolina, Gert, Chase, Molly and Nico - a group of teens whose lives are about to take an unexpected turn...

So, yay, I finally started reading this!

...Only to discover that I don't actually like this as much as many other people do. I can certainly understand why people do like it, the art is gorgeous and the plot is compelling and a lot of the writing is super absorbing, but it just doesn't hit that many narrative kinks for me. I found it hard to care about a lot of the characters, I found the plot a little boring at times and it's another one where I found the conflict weirdly muted.

It might well be a case of its hype working against it, for me. IDK! I did like it quite a lot, but I just didn't find myself as invested as I expected to be.

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1

When a superhuman terrorist group that calls itself The People sparks a violent uprising, the land famed for its incredible technology and proud warrior traditions will be thrown into turmoil. If Wakanda is to survive, it must adapt--but can its monarch, one in a long line of Black Panthers, survive the necessary change? Heavy lies the head that wears the cowl!

I was hugely looking forward to this before it came out, I love Black Panther and this is the first volume written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, but... Hm, it's another one that ended up not quite to my tastes.

Which isn't to say that I didn't like it! Because good lord, there is a hell of a lot to love about this run of Black Panther. I really adored how it tackled the intersection of gender and race head on, and crafted a really compelling story around that collision. The art was lovely, the storytelling was really absorbing a lot of the time and I did like a lot of the musings on politics included.

I suppose my main problem with it was that you can TELL that Coates is very new to writing comics. He doesn't quite have the pacing down yet, and hasn't quite grasped how to weave together action with the quieter moments. You can tell that his background is more in longform prose, and less in the serial style of comics. It often gets too philosophical, too invested in musings on power - and who exactly holds the power - when it should be focused on moving the story along and grabbing the audience's attention.

I will say, however, that even by the end of this volume the pacing was improving a hell of a lot. I'm still reading this series, outside of trades, and so I can very firmly say that there has been an improvement and that it looks like there's a lot of exciting stuff coming up next. Coates is a new comics author, and it shows rather too much in this volume for me to rec it, but he's improving by the issue and definitely has the potential to produce great stuff in the future.

Spider-Man/Deadpool, Vol. 1: Isn't it Bromantic

The Webbed Wonder and the Merc with a Mouth are teaming up for their first series EVER! It's action, adventure and just a smattering of (b)romance in this episodic epic featuring the WORLD'S GREATEST SUPER HERO and the star of the WORLD'S GREATEST COMICS MAGAZINE. Talk about a REAL dynamic duo!

I really liked this, with some reservations.

I will admit that I was pretty much guaranteed to pick up this series no matter its quality, but was then pleasantly surprised when its quality turned out to be pretty good. The pacing is excellent, the writing is fun and I really like all the interactions between the characters. It's a story with a surprising amount of heart to it, and I definitely appreciate how it can make me cackle one moment and go "awwwwww" the very next.

I will say that it has some teething problems, the humour gets a little too broad at times and a few of the plot decisions REALLY puzzled me, but it's another one that I've kept reading and so another one that I can definitely say has found its feet later on.

It's not the most profound thing ever, but even with small problems it remains a hell of a lot of fun.

Blue Beetle, Vol. 1: Shellshocked

Tearing its way through the events of DAY OF VENGEANCE and INFINITE CRISIS, the mystical Blue Beetle scarab has chosen its new guardian: teenager Jaime Reyes! But supernatural powers can be a blessing or a curse, and when it comes to the powers of the Scarab, you don't get one without the other.

This is another one that I've been meaning to pick up for a while, and needless to say I'm very glad that I did.

...Okay, and that's enough coherency for this review. HOLY FUCK DID I LOVE THIS VOLUME, HOLY FUCK DO I LOVE THIS SERIES. THE AAAAAAAAAAAAAART! The CHARACTERS! THE PLOTTING! THE WRITING THAT MANAGES TO BE BOTH SWEET AND HILARIOUS AT THE SAME TIME! JAIME! THE RELATIONSHIPS INVOLVED! JAIIIME! THE SURPRISING DEPTH OF WORLDBUILDING! JAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIME!

...Like, are you super surprised that I'm reccing it after all of that? +

JSA, Vol. 4: Fair Play

Just like crime, gambling doesn't pay... especially when you're gambling at The House!

Roulette runs the most dangerous gambling den on Earth — a club where costumed adventurers are lured to fight for their lives while super-villains bet on the outcome. Now she's turned her sights on the JSA, and she's got more than a professional interest in seeing the team destroyed!

Will the JSA's survival come down to a roll of the dice?


After Starman I reverted to the JSA as the ongoing old comic series that I'm slowly catching up on. This is volume 4, which shows that I'm already progressing quite rapidly!

This isn't as much of a stand out series as Starman was, but then... What is? It's still a very charming series, with a lot to like about it, and this was a very charming volume as a result. I like the relationships between the characters that are being built up (or, at least, most of them. Am I supposed to find the Hawkpeople interesting again?), I found the plot fairly absorbing and I really liked most of the ideas that went into this volume.

As far as superhero comics go, I will admit that it's fairly middle of the road - it doesn't do many new things, and falls back on the old tropes fairly regularly. But as somebody who loves superheroes, I still found this hugely enjoyable.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Vol. 1

Miles Morales is hitting the big time! Not only is he joining the Marvel Universe, but he's also a card-carrying Avenger, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Iron Man, Thor and Captain America! And he'll soon be a media sensation in this All-New, All-Different New York! One thing's the same, though: non-stop action!

This doesn't have a snappy subtitle, like most of the offerings from Marvel do now, and I think that kind of sums up the problem with it.

Which sounds a little odd! And, also, probably a little overdramatic. I DID like this volume. I really love the character of Miles, I found the plot quite interesting and I really liked the integration into the general Marvel universe. The whole thing was, overall, extremely compelling a lot of the time. I'm still excited for where it's going to go, and I feel like a lot of the developments within it make sense.

It's just... It's another one that seems disappointingly middle of the road, but with less charm than JSA? It clearly wants to be something revolutionary, but it falls back on a lot of old tropes and only really gives lip service to doing anything new. The entire story is one that I've seen many times before, and have seen done an awful lot better at that. Using the old tropes is absolutely fine, there's a reason that they're so popular, but is best done with a wink and a nudge these days. This story takes itself far too seriously a lot of the time, and doesn't do the fantastic characters within it justice as a result.

Oh, and on a side-note: the brief defense of the Friendzone concept was fucking BIZARRE. Stop that shit, Bendis.

Soul Stains - Chris Marie Green

Dawn Madison, ex vampire hunter, has been lured out of retirement by the sighting of an old, presumed-dead Hollywood starlet in a decrepit Vegas showroom. But is this entity merely a ghost? Or is it one of the escaped, mortalized Hollywood Underground vampires Dawn vowed to wipe off the face of the earth, even at the threat of returning her own soul to darkness?

This is more a novella than a full book, but it counts on Goodreads so I'm counting it here!

I've been a fan of Vampire Babylon FOREVER, and so when I got a kindle this not available in paperback story was the first thing I grabbed on it. And... I did enjoy it?

When you read Vampire Babylon, you kind of know what you're getting into. Glorious trash, with surprisingly deep flashes of worldbuilding and characterisation. This had a lot of that, and it was very satisfying to see the old beloved characters in a new situation. I liked the setting, I liked the general premise and I liked seeing the ways that Dawn keeps developing even after the whole vampire thing.

But, yeah, I did have a few problems with this novella. I know that, by their very nature, they're short - but this felt too short. It read very much like it wanted to be longer, but instead had to settle for a crunched wordcount that led to everything feeling a little too cut off. As a result, everything else suffered a little. I didn't get to spend enough time with the characters, I didn't get to settle into the general trashy atmosphere of the universe and I just found it very hard to get attached to anything that was going on.

I did still really like it, Vampire Babylon remains very much to my tastes, but I was a little disappointed by it at the same time unfortunately.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone / Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets / Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - JK Rowling

Harry Potter's life is miserable. His parents are dead and he's stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he's a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

HARRY POTTER! <33

These are obviously rereads, but Goodreads counts rereads - a fact that I embarrassingly did not realize until I picked these up on Kindle - and so I'm going to count these. And... Well, what can I really say? I remembered these fondly, but it's only upon rereading that I remember exactly how good they are. The characters are amazing (I forgot just how much I loved Harry!), the worldbuilding is MAGNIFICENT and the style of writing just does such a good job of dragging you in.

I'm not sure that I'd call these the best series of books ever written, but I am pretty sure that I'd give them at least a top 5 spot. Absolutely amazing, and definitely worthy of a revisit. +

Thunderbolts, Vol. 1: No Quarter

Red Hulk, Venom, Elektra, Deadpool, the Punisher. Forget the courts, the jails, the system - this team of Thunderbolts fights fire with fire, targeting the most dangerous and lethal players in the Marvel Universe with extreme prejudice. Led by General 'Thunderbolt' Ross, AKA the Red Hulk, this hand-picked team of like-minded operatives is going to make the world a better placeby all means necessary.

From the highs, to the lows...

I honestly cannot tell you what happened in this volume. I read it, I read it ALL, but I still have no idea what went on. There was a team being formed, and then there was a team being, and then there was an island and... Stuff happened? Maybe? The art was pretty, but none of the characters read as more than cardboard cutouts painted red? Elektra had boobs, and god forbid you forget that fact?

I'm honestly not sure that I can give a more in depth review. It happened. And, to be honest, I kind of regret that it did. -

The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss

Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story.

A gripping story, 75% about student loans!

That seems like a slightly unfair way to open my review of this. I did really enjoy it! It was recced by my SO, the lovely P, and was certainly very much to my tastes in a lot of ways. I liked a lot of the characters, I felt that the storytelling device was absolutely EXCELLENT and I hugely enjoyed all the effort put into the worldbuilding.

The only problem is, that this has been billed by a lot of places - though not by P, I hasten to add - as the most game-changing fantasy to ever fantasy. And... It's not that. It feels very overedited, in the way that you can tell that the author is too far into it to see that a good half of it could've been cut with no change. There's very little drama, to the point where often a couple of hundred pages go by without anything really happening. I really like the characters and the storytelling device, but felt like the whole book was a little too in love with its cleverness at times.

So, yeah. I did like it! But the best and most unrivaled book ever it was not.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Alexander McCall Smith

Wayward daughters, missing husbands, philandering partners, curious conmen - If you've got a problem, and no one else can help you, then pay a visit to Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's only - and finest - female private detective, and her assistant, Mma Makutsi. Her methods may not be conventional, and her manner not exactly Miss Marple, but she's got warmth, wit and canny intuition on her side, not to mention Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, the charming proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. And Precious is going to need them all as she sets out on a series of cases that tumbles our heroine into a hotbed of strange situations and more than a little danger...

This was the McCall Smith book I mentioned reading in the last post! ...Y'know, if anybody remembers that. If you're a hardcore reader of the comic series of Dorey, and remembers all the little callbacks that actually make no difference to the plot.

Anyway, moving on!

I REALLY enjoyed this. I'd heard that it was good, but I wasn't expecting it to be quite as good as it was. It's more a series of gathered short stories than a novel, I suppose, but all of them are linked - and told! - so well that it kind of feels like a novel anyway. I really liked the mysteries, I really liked the sense of place (and how effortlessly it was conveyed) and I really LOVED the characters involved. Precious Ramotswe was an absolute delight, and I adored absolutely everything that she did in this novel. It ended up being a hugely satisfying read as a result, and one that I can find very few problems with. +

The Astonishing Ant-Man, Vol. 2: Small-Time Criminal

Scott Lang has his tiny hands full, from one former goliath-sized super hero to a brand new one! His daughter Cassie used to be a Young Avenger. Now, she's de-powered and her life is the worst. But she's about to find out what being a hero really means!

I told you that I'd continued reading this! Y'know, if you're still being a hardcore comic reader (this is a weird joke).

Anyway, I really liked this! It still had some of the problem of the first volume, and I still definitely prefer the pre-reboot stuff, but it seemed to be finding its feet a lot more overall. I really liked the extra bits that Cassie got (to the point where I'd almost rather Spencer was writing a Cassie-centric solo series), I still found the art really pretty and I felt that the plot moved on at a far faster pace than before. It seemed a lot more absorbing, and I got into it a lot more as a result.

So, yeah. Still with problems, but another one where those seem to be improving by the issue.

Power Man and Iron Fist, Vol. 1: The Boys are Back in Town

The best buddy team in comics, reunited at last! Luke Cage and Danny Rand, the Heroes for Hire turned Avengers, are going back to street-level basics -- and there's a mystery to solve that will draw in crime lords, hired goons and old friends! But which of the three pose the most trouble?

This... Is an odd one.

Which sounds like a bad way to start a review, but let me explain! I've continued reading the series after this, again in single issue format, and so I can safely say that the issues after this are AMAZING. Like, amazing to the point where it's one of my favourite series out at the moment. The humour is amazing, the art is really compelling and I absolutely love the way that they write the characters. It seems like a very natural series, that deals very well with the dumb constraints imposed by Marvel at the moment, and is one definitely worth a look.

The only problem being that, well, it's another one that definitely has teething problems. It very much settles into its stride later on, but the first few issues are slightly wobbly in quality. The first plot is a little weak, the writers take a little time to properly get into the characters (especially Luke, oddly enough) and the first arc seems to generally just have this sense of biding its time about it.

So, yeah. I would DEFINITELY recommend this series, but... Weirdly, I am not sure that I can recommend this volume.



So, yes, indeed! That's another reading review post done, and I can now say that I'm up to 200 books! Which is, uh, a LOT more than I was expecting.

I've still been reading, obviously, and so hopefully I'll manage to squeeze at least one more post out before the end of the year and then a post to finish off all that I've read in 2016 around the beginning of 2017 (which is terrifyingly close). I won't promise anything, because I'm again worried about dropping off the face of the planet for another few months, but I'd like to continue recording all that I've read just so I have my thoughts all in one place.

Hope you enjoyed, again! :D

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
ragnarok_08
Nov. 21st, 2016 03:36 pm (UTC)
Nice review post *^^*
geckoholic
Nov. 22nd, 2016 05:00 pm (UTC)
Interesting list indeed, I shall have a good look at it and peruse. /nod
batmarg
Nov. 30th, 2016 04:27 am (UTC)
200? I'm impressed. I've really got to commit to getting back into reading in 2017...though i still may not hit 200 lol
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )