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Book reviews!

I originally meant to post this after I’d read 25 books. But I failed/got busy with exams, so that rather fell by the wayside. On the plus side, though, this means you get the shinier version with reviews of the 50 (or thereabouts, don’t sue me if there are a few more) books I’ve read this year! Because yay, books. ^^

So, yeah. The purpose of this post is mainly to provide reviews/opinions on all the books that I’ve read this year so far. It’s also to provide recommendations/warnings, if any of you are at all interested in that kind of thing! Books that I recommend are marked with a +, books that I recommend AVOIDING AT ALL COSTS are marked with a -. Because I like systems, and shit.

Anywhoo, on with the books! :D

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Who are you?

What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick's beautiful wife?

Confession: I mainly picked up this book because I saw the movie last year and loved it.

Confession no. 2: I still kindaaaaa prefer the movie.

I mean, yes, I KNOW that I’m supposed to be all “the book is always better than the movie!” but… To be honest, that viewpoint has just never made sense to me. There are a lot of shitty movie adaptations, yes, but there are also a lot of absolutely fantastic ones that add things to the plot. And this was one of them. The movie of Gone Girl gave me more of what I enjoyed about the book (Amy’s thought processes, oddly enough) and less of what I was indifferent to (Andie), and was fantastically acted to boot. It probably helped that the writer of the book actually wrote the screenplay for the film, because having experience with both I’d actually say that the film is a refinement of the book to a slightly better level.

Buuuuuut, saying that (and aware that this book review has developed into a rant about film snobs), I’d still definitely recommend this book. Tightly plotted, wonderfully characterized and playing around with narration in a way that I absolutely loved: if you want a dark book with a lot of flavour, this is definitely going to be your thing.

(Plus, Amy! Read it for Amy alone, seriously. I think I once described her as a Shakespearean villain, and I’m standing by that view.) +

Zom-B Bride (Zom-B #10) – Darren Shan

The tenth terrifying installment from master of horror, Darren Shan. Does true love lurk in the darkest of places? Could a psychotic stalker be the man of your dreams? Can a killer win your heart? Here comes the bride...

Darren Shan basically dominated my teenage years reading wise, and I still feel quite a bit of loyalty to him today. The Zom-B series isn’t quite as good as the Demonata series, but is still quite fun and quite quick to read. It’s a twelve book series, with ten out at the moment, but I honestly think that you could read them in a week if you were so inclined.

And this one was quite good, really! Creepy, reminding me of how Darren Shan is entirely the cause of my fondness for the enemy mine trope and doing rather interesting things with the setting. I’m pretty sure how the series is going to end up, at present moment, but on the strength of this I’m definitely looking forward to reading the details of it.

(One slight worry I have, though, is that this series does seem to vary in quality depending on the book. So far I’ve loved the even ones, but have been largely indifferent to the odd ones. Good in a way, because the series is twelve books long and so the ending is likely to be good, but I am finding myself a bit wary about the penultimate one…)

The Gods of Gotham – Lyndsey Faye

August 1845 in New York; enter the dark, unforgiving city underworld of the legendary Five Points...

After a fire decimates a swathe of lower Manhattan, and following years of passionate political dispute, New York City at long last forms an official Police Department. That same summer, the great potato famine hits Ireland. These events will change the city of New York for ever.

Timothy Wilde hadn't wanted to be a copper star. On the night of August 21st, on his way home from the Tombs defeated and disgusted, he is plotting his resignation, when a young girl who has escaped from a nearby brothel, crashes into him; she wears only a nightdress and is covered from head to toe in blood. Searching out the truth in the child's wild stories, Timothy soon finds himself on the trail of a brutal killer, seemingly hell bent on fanning the flames of anti-Irish immigrant sentiment and threatening chaos in a city already in the midst of social upheaval. But his fight for justice could cost him the woman he loves, his brother and ultimately his life...


Ugggggh, I wasted a month of my life trying to read this bloody thing and I would not wish it on anybody else. The plot is confused, the characters are obnoxious and the writing can be described as amateur at best. In the end, I will be honest, I couldn’t even force myself to finish reading it. I got to the point where the git of a main character tried to nice-guy his “love interest” (quotes definitely needed, she was completely uninterested in him and yet he had a weird obsession with her for some reason) and tossed it aside. It wasn’t worth the brain eating boredom. -

Shadows Till Sunrise – Chris Marie Green

A Bad Girl Trying To Do Good

Lilly Meratoliage used to be a villain—a ruthless guard for a power-hungry family who worshipped monsters. Burned in a fire as punishment after a failed mission, she was left scarred and desolate. Now, healed by a bayou witch who has given Lilly a pair of white magic boots, Lilly is ready for redemption, charged with tracking down a phantom who has already killed twice and is aiming to add to his list. It’s just too bad those charmed boots must feed off Lilly, robbing her of her short-term memory every night in order to keep them both strong. And it’s too bad that she’ll need to work side-by-side with a man who has already betrayed her…

A Tormented Hero Who Can’t Let Go of the Past

Psychic Philippe Angier is haunted by visions of these paranormal killings that have darkened his hometown of New Orleans, and he wants to catch up with this murderer who seems as if he’s stepped out of the past to challenge his victims to bloody duels. But to catch a phantom, Philippe needs Lilly’s stealth and fighting skills. What he doesn’t need is the attraction he still feels for her, even though he once deceived her during a previous adventure.

But charming Philippe is winning Lilly over hour by ticking hour, even if those boots are going to erase her memory again at sunrise, turning him into just another stranger...

Will the magic and the phantom beat them before the sun comes up or will star-crossed love win out?

I largely missed the trashy vampire phase that ATE THE WORLD while I was a teenager, but one series did manage to get through my defences quite comprehensively. This book isn’t technically a part of that series, but does feature one of the major characters and is set very much in the same world. (And written very much in the same way. I love them, but when I say trashy I mean TRASHY.)

Anyhow, that context aside: I did very much enjoy this book! I had big problems with it, mainly that the female main character (Lilly) has her evil gayz cured by the love of a good man, but putting those aside it was definitely a fun one to read! Full of great action, full of interesting world building and with a lot of great characters. Green’s main strength has always been her villains, and this definitely is the case here. Etienne is a dick, but you still kind of want to give him a huge hug and some cake.

I haven’t recommended this one, just as I haven’t recommend the Darren Shan one, because it requires a bit of background reading and is most definitely not to the taste of everybody. But, hey, if you fancy a set of trashy vampire novels with great villains and actual representation (awesome female characters! Awesome gay characters! Actual trans characters!) I’d definitely recommend any of hers!

The Girl with All the Gifts – M. R. Carey

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.


…Ahem, yes. If you can’t tell: this has been my favourite book of the year so far, and I’d happily recommend it to anybody. It is a zombie book, which I know can put some people off, but it does it in such an interesting way that it felt completely new. And it had so many fascinating ideas! And actually addressed questions that I’ve been asking about zombie epidemics since the whole trend began!

Plus, it has excellent female characters and a strong line in technobabble. Even if you are all apocalypsed-out, I would definitely recommend giving it at least a look. +

Hamlet – William Shakespeare

Learning of his father’s death, Prince Hamlet comes home to find his uncle married to his mother and installed on the Danish throne. At night, the ghost of the old king demands that Hamlet avenge his ‘foul and most unnatural murder’.

Encompassing political intrigue and sexual obsession, philosophical reflection and violent action, tragic depth and wild humour, Hamlet is Shakespeare’s ‘poem unlimited’, a colossus in the story of the English language and the fullest expression of his genius.

Yeah, I know. Technically this could count as a reread, but I needed to fill the “a play” square on the reading challenge that I’m doing and I’ve technically never actually read this all the way through SO. On the list it goes!

To be honest I’ve never really got along with Hamlet. So many people say that it’s Shakespeare’s greatest play, but I’ve never really seen it. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but I far prefer a lot of his others and I’m a bit tired of constantly being beaten over the head with it. I also suppose that I’m a bit tired of EVERY ACTOR EVER deciding to do their own version of Hamlet, especially when they’d be far better suited to doing other Shakespeare roles. Do Macbeth! Or Richard II! Or Coriolanus! JUST NOT ANOTHER BLOODY HAMLET YOU ARE FIFTY THREE THIS IS GETTING EMBARASSING.

This probably isn’t a very good review. Oh well.

Flappers: British Women in the 1920s – Pamela Horn

For many women the 1920s was a time of change after the pressures - and opportunities - of the First World War. This book examines how women responded to the new challenges and the difficulties of those years, from the revival of the round of high society by the social elite, to the lives of the new middle-class professionals, and working-class women employed in the still traditional milieu of factory and domestic service.

Read for the “non-fiction” square on my reading challenge… And here is where we discover that I still don’t really know how to review non-fiction books, heh. All I can really say is that it was good! A very interesting, quite vigorous look at how life really was for women in the twenties. Which, as you’ll probably expect if you know even a little about history, was not actually that good. Because society is a dick, and women still generally bear the brunt of its dickishness.

Still, fun! A very interesting look at a very interesting period in history, though not the best book on the twenties that I’ve read.

The Strangler Vine – MJ Carter

Calcutta 1837. The East India Company rules India - or most of it; and its most notorious and celebrated son, Xavier Mountstuart, has gone missing.

William Avery, a down-at-heel junior officer in the Company's army, is sent to find him, in the unlikely company of the enigmatic and uncouth Jeremiah Blake. A more mismatched duo couldn't be imagined, but they must bury their differences as they are caught up in a search that turns up too many unanswered questions and seems bound to end in failure.

What was it that so captivated Mountstuart about the Thugs, the murderous sect of Kali-worshippers who strangle innocent travellers by the roadside? Who is Jeremiah Blake and can he be trusted? And why is the whole enterprise shrouded in such secrecy?

In the dark heart of Company India, Avery will have to fight for his very life, and in defence of a truth he will wish he had never learned.

Oh, man, I really enjoyed this book. Which was nice, considering that I was initially expecting to find it as objectionable as the last historical fiction that I’d read (FUCK YOU AND THE HORSE THAT YOU RODE IN ON GODS OF GOTHAM)! But, no, this was really great. Really interesting, really fun and pretty much everything that I want from a historical crime novel… By which I mean not totally up itself, with a great plot and characters that actually felt like characters. You’d be surprised by how often that doesn’t happen with historical fiction.

Also, if this is of interest (it’s of interest to me, but I am trash SO): the two main characters are incredibly easy to ship. I mean, INCREDIBLY easy to ship. I mean, I would not actually be surprised if they did start making out in the next book.

…Yeah. So, if you’re interested in excellent historical crime and easily shippable main characters this book is definitely worth a look! +

Divus Julius – Suetonius

The life of Julius Caesar.

I’ve read huge chunks of Suetonius before, of course, but somehow managed to miss out the Divus Julius entirely. Ah well! I read it this year, and that’s the important thing. ^^ This probably isn’t of interest to anybody who isn’t fascinated by Ancient Rome, but if you are – or you want to become so – I’d definitely recommend Suetonius as the best place to start. He’s not only my favourite Roman source, but quite possibly my favourite classical source in general. Very gossipy, very fun and constantly seeming like a nice guy to go sit in a pub with!

Plus, good chunks of the Divus Julius basically read like a fanfic. Which is amusing, if nothing else!

Foxglove Summer (Peter Grant #5) – Ben Aaronovitch

In the fifth of his bestselling series Ben Aaronovitch takes Peter Grant out of whatever comfort zone he might have found and takes him out of London - to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. But while you can take the London copper out of London you can't take the London out of the copper.

Travelling west with Beverley Brook Peter soon finds himself caught up in a deep mystery and having to tackle local cops and local gods. And what's more all the shops are closed by 4pm...

The fifth one in the Peter Grant series! I dunno, I like these books but I don’t quite have the same passionate THEY ARE THE BEST THING EVER OMG reaction that a lot of fandom seems to. They’re perfectly serviceable books, and a lot of fun, but I wouldn’t quite term them as the second coming of Christ or anything… But, then, that really does seem to be my reaction to a lot of Aaronovitch’s work. I’ve met several people who consider Remembrance of the Daleks the BEST DOCTOR WHO STORY EVER, while I’ve always been largely indifferent to it. Ho hum, different people are allowed to like different things I suppose.

Anyhow! To get on with the review of the actual book… Very fun, very happy making, probably my favourite in the series so far. Peter really shone in this, and I actually started to like Beverley as opposed to registering only mild interest when she occasionally ambled in. Plus the plot, which has been a little oddly paced in some of his other ones, was actually really enjoyable in this! So yay! :D

The only thing I can say against it, really, is that it needed more Nightingale. But, then, he is my favourite character so I’m always gonna say that.

The Devil in the Marshalsea – Antonia Hodgson

London, 1727. Tom Hawkins refuses to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a country parson. His preference is for wine, women, and cards. But there’s honor there too, and Tom won’t pull family strings to get himself out of debt—not even when faced with London’s notorious debtors’ prison.

The Marshalsea Gaol is a world of its own, with simple rules: Those with family or friends who can lend them a little money may survive in relative comfort. Those with none will starve in squalor and disease. And those who try to escape will suffer a gruesome fate at the hands of its ruthless governor and his cronies. The trouble is, Tom has never been good at following rules, even simple ones. And the recent grisly murder of a debtor, Captain Roberts, has brought further terror to the gaol. While the captain's beautiful widow cries for justice, the finger of suspicion points only one way: do the sly, enigmatic figure of Samuel Fleet.

Some call Fleet a devil, a man to avoid at all costs. But Tom Hawkins is sharing his cell. Soon Tom’s choice is clear: get to the truth of the murder—or be the next to die.

Another historical novel! I’ve found a few of them that I’ve loved this year (and one that I’ve hated, UGH GODS OF GOTHAM), and this one definitely goes on the list. I didn’t find it quite as absorbing as the Strangler Vine, but it was certainly a fascinating read with several excellent characters that I really warmed to. The pacing was off in a few parts, and the reveal of the villain left me generally unmoved, but overall it was a great story and an excellent way to spend a few days.

Saying that, though, I’m probably not going to pick up the sequel. Mainly because, unlike the Strangler Vine, I don’t think that it really needed a sequel. I want the characters to be happy, dammit! (Unless she brings a certain character back from the dead, in which case I am totally cool with it and she should totally go ahead). +

If Only They Could Talk / It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet / Let Sleeping Vets Lie / Vet in Harness / Vets Might Fly / Vet in a Spin / The Lord God Made Them All / Every Living Thing – James Herriot

When the newly qualified vet, James Herriot, arrives in the small Yorkshire village of Darrowby, he has no idea of the new friends he will meet or adventures that lie ahead. From the author whose books inspired the BBC series "All Creatures Great and Small", this first volume of unforgettable memoirs chronicles James Herriot's first years as a country vet, with the signature storytelling magic that has made him a favourite the world over. Here is a book for all those who find laughter and joy in animals, and who know and understand the magic of wild places and beautiful countryside.

I’ve definitely read all eight books separately, but I decided to group them together here so I didn’t have to keep finding different ways to say “I like reading things about animals!” heh. Anyhow! I’ve read a few James Herriot books, but that was so long ago that these all basically counted as new. They’re not exactly groundbreaking books, but they are very fun and light and quite easy to read. They’re the main reason I’ve read so much this year, actually! I ended up reading a fair few of them in a day or two, and it was both pleasant and very good for my numbers!

Plus, adorable animals. Such as cows, and dogs, and even a few kitties! What a lovely thing to read about. ^^ +

Redshirts – John Scalzi

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that:
(1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces
(2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations
(3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives

I mainly picked up this book because we’ve been watching through Star Trek: TNG lately, and I was quite in the mood for an affectionate parody of it. This definitely fit the bill, parody wise! It was very light, very fun and an actually quite interesting idea that was carried off rather well. The author was obviously a fan of that kind of space show, and since I’m also a fan of that kind of space show it carried across quite well for me! Plus, I really liked the main character – he was kind of dorky and calm and fun, and it felt nice to be in his point of view.

One thing I would say is that the dialogue felt a bit TV-ish sometimes – by which I mean that it was very quick, and could’ve used a bit more context without the actors to carry it across – but that’s a fairly minor problem in the scheme of things. Overall, it was a lot of fun and I quite liked it!

A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson

The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaing guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).

I read this for the “book that you never finished reading” slot on my reading challenge thing (although, apparently, a lot of books I’ve finished so far this year could apply to that. Heh), and while it was good and I very much liked it I do understand why past!me put it aside.

I devoured all of Bryson’s other works as a teenager, and reread a good few of them last year, and this was the only one that I’ve never really read. The reason for that, I suppose, is because it’s not really my sort of thing. While I quite like the idea of wandering around the cities of Europe, and possibly even some of the cities of America, I am most certainly not a hiker and will probably never magically become one. It was also, unfortunately, a bit disjointed in parts. While most of Bryson’s books follow a clear cut narrative, rambling adventures around various places!, this one… Didn’t. It skipped in and out of places, and as a result somehow managed to cover both too much and too little. Which was a little disappointing.

I mean, I still liked it! – I’m very fond of Bryson as a writer, even though I can understand why some people have problems with him – but it definitely wasn’t one of my favourites. Still, though, a quite nice diversion and a semi-interesting look at a place that I’m never going to visit in all my life.

The Rosary Girls (Byrne and Balzano #1) – Richard Montanari

In the most brutal killing crusade Philadelphia has seen in years, a series of young Catholic women are found dead, their bodies mutilated and their hands bolted together. Each clutches a rosary in her lifeless grasp.

Veteran cop Kevin Byrne and his rookie partner Jessica Balzano set out to hunt down the elusive killer, who leads them deeper and deeper into the abyss of a madman's depravity. Suspects appear before them like bad dreams - and vanish just as quickly. While the body count rises, Easter is fast approaching: the day of resurrection and of the last rosary to be counted...

I wasn’t expecting to finish, much less enjoy, this book when I picked it up but I ended up quite liking it! Huzzah! I was expecting just a run of the mill police procedural, which I got to an extent, but it actually turned out to be a really interesting book! Well told, quite fast moving (both a surprise and a good thing, considering that it was 400+ pages) and with a host of excellent characters who I really grew to like. Jessica Balzano, in particular, was the main thing that got me really into the whole book. She just felt quite real, and relatable in a way that was surprising to see in a slightly trashy crime novel written by a dude.

But, yes. This book probably won’t be for you if you aren’t at least slightly into trashy crime novels, but if you are it’s definitely worth a look. The characters are great, the plot is actually really interesting and it’s generally quite well written. I recommend it, and I’m already looking forward to when I have enough money to buy the sequels! +

The Agricola – Tacitus

The portrait of Tacitus' father-in-law, Agricola, is a eulogistic description of the career of the famous governor of Roman Britain, and it contains the first detailed account of the British Isles.

Read for one of my modules this year, and very much enjoyed. Suetonius is still my favourite Ancient Roman author, but Tacitus definitely makes a credible challenge for the crown because he is FANTASTIC. The only thing that separates them, in my eyes, is that Suetonius clearly means to be hilariously bitchy while Tacitus frequently seems to stumble into it by accident. Plus, Suetonius would definitely be more fun to sit in the pub with.

Anyhow! The Agricola is less unintentionally hilarious than the Annals, but is still pretty hilarious at certain points. Tacitus’ endless bitching about Rome, for instance, is an absolute highlight. Probably not for you if you don’t already have an intimate knowledge of ancient Rome (I have a degree in it, and I was still lost at certain points), but if you do definitely worth a read and a bit of a giggle.

Cromwell, Our Chief of Men – Antonia Fraser

No Englishman has made more impact on the history of his nation than Cromwell; few have been so persistently maligned in the folklore of history. The central purpose of Antonia Fraser's book is the recreation of his life and character, freed from the distortions of myth and Royalist propaganda.

Read for the “500+ pages” slot on my reading challenge. A quite good and quite interesting book, that probably mainly suffered in my eyes because I dislike both Oliver Cromwell and endless battles… Both of which this book had in abundance. Probably should’ve guessed that, heh.

Despite those two personal sticking points, however, this was a very good book. Very interesting, very factual and almost doing the trick of getting me to like Cromwell at points. If you’re more of a fan of Cromwell and battles than me I’d definitely recommend giving this a go. And, if you’re not, I’d definitely recommend giving Fraser a go anyway. She’s probably my favourite modern historian, and has written on a lot of interesting figures.

Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur's chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten's arm is a line from Star Trek: "Because survival is insufficient." But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

…Yeah, this one just didn’t do it for me. It’s a pity, because I’ve read a lot of positive buzz around it and apocalypse fiction is usually a genre that I’m at least amused by, but I just couldn’t get into it. I found the writing style a little irritating, the plot generally uninteresting and most of the characters to be basically the same. Which was slightly irritating, considering that one was a man in his sixties living in the Western world and one was a woman in her twenties living twenty years post-apocalypse. I’ve seen a few reviews suggesting that that’s just a way to highlight how we’re all the same deep down, but personally I think it just highlights massive flaws in the author’s style.

I described this book to my partner as “not sad, but depressing” and I think I stand by that statement. Sadness doesn’t feel great, but at least something is happening. Depression is just a long, monotonous trudge through a never-changing landscape and this is what this book was for me. I didn’t particularly understand why anything was happening, and I didn’t particularly care.

But ah well, not every book can be written with me exactly in mind. I didn’t enjoy it, or find it particularly helpful in maintaining a healthy mental state, but you may well find it quite interesting. I wouldn’t recommend it, though -

Call the Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950s – Jennifer Worth

An unforgettable story of the joy of motherhood, the bravery of a community, and the hope of one extraordinary woman

At the age of twenty-two, Jennifer Worth leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in post war London's East End slums. The colorful characters she meets while delivering babies all over London-from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives to the woman with twenty-four children who can't speak English to the prostitutes and dockers of the city's seedier side-illuminate a fascinating time in history. Beautifully written and utterly moving, The Midwife will touch the hearts of anyone who is, and everyone who has, a mother.

Mainly picked up because I saw it for cheap when we were on holiday for P’s birthday, and I decided that I needed something to read after I finished my great James Herriot binge. Anyhow, this was fairly interesting? Mostly interesting? But not really groundbreaking. It was a nice look at a period of history that is frequently glossed over, but was also VERY coloured by the author’s prejudices and view of the world. I got the impression that she was trying for a James Herriot style romp? But the nice thing about James Herriot is that he always respects the people he writes about and usually makes himself the butt of any jokes. None of that here, you always got the impression that the author held herself far above these poor common folk and still considered herself better than them.

It also made me extra determined not to ever look into the TV show. Which, from the few episodes that I was forced to watch, is just as judgemental while somehow managing to be extra twee into the bargain.

(Also I’ve just realized that the extraordinary woman that the blurb is referring to is supposed to be the author herself. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.)

Greek Lives / Roman Lives – Plutarch

Here, Plutarch introduces the major figures and periods of classical Greece, detailing the lives of nine personages, including Lycurgus, Solon, Themistocles, Cimon, Alexander, Pericles, Nicias, Alcibiades, and Agesilaus.


In the eight lives of this collection Plutarch introduces the reader to the major figures and periods of classical Rome. He portrays virtues to be emulated and vices to be avoided, but his purpose is also implicitly to educate and warn those in his own day who wielded power. In prose that is rich, elegant and sprinkled with learned references, he explores with an extraordinary degree of insight the interplay of character and political action.

Both of these were read for the same course at university, and so I’ve decided to bung them together just to save you lot two very similar reviews! Anyhow, both of these were very interesting. Plutarch isn’t quite my favourite Roman biographer, that honour still falls to Suetonius, but he’s still very interesting. The incidents of gossip that he records are generally hilarious, even if he view on life does seem to be a little stuffy at times. On balance his Greek lives were a bit more interesting, and seemed to have a bit more detail to them, but all of them were generally quite fun! Not bad course books, on the whole! (I say, as an English student who has had to read a hell of a lot of shit over three years.)

The Final Empire / The Well of Ascension – Brandon Sanderson

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with colour once more?

I’ve put the blurb from the first book, because it is by far the least spoilery, but I’ve read the first two and am currently working my way through the final one in the series. These are really, really good books! P recommended them to me on the basis of a great magic system and a really interesting main character, and so far neither of those have failed. The magic system is quite complex, but complex in a way that makes perfect sense and it’s quite obvious that Sanderson has thought it through a hell of a lot. The main characters are all really interesting, and the primary relationship has the virtue of being both realistic and not annoying. I’d definitely recommend them if you’re at all into fantasy. They’re quite long, and frequently complex, but definitely worth a read.

The only problem with them, really, is that I get far too invested in the characters. The reason I haven’t finished the third book yet is that I have to keep putting them down and convincing myself that the main characters are okay REALLY. Which is slightly embarrassing. << +

The Real James Herriot: The Authorized Biography – James Wight

After qualifying as a vet in 1939, Alf Wight, aka James Herriot, moved to a veterinary practice in Thirsk. He was over fifty when his first book of stories about life as a Yorkshire vet was published, giving birth to some of Yorkshire's most famous and much-loved literary characters. Although he brought fame and fortune to himself and those around him, Alf Wight remained an intensely private person, respected and trusted by those whose animals he cared for, and adored by millions of fans. This illuminating biography reveals the real man behind the title 'The World's Most Famous Vet'.

Yet another attempt to fill the gap left by finishing James Herriot’s books. This was a perfectly nice biography, that threw up a fair few interesting nuggets. Probably the most interesting thing for me, personally, was the exploration of mental illness. James Herriot – or Alf Wight, to call him by his actual name – suffered from bouts of mental illness throughout his life, experiencing a severe attack of depression just before his books got published. Mental illness was always treated with great respect throughout the James Herriot books themselves, so it was really interesting to learn the backstory. And certainly gave me more respect for the man, who now definitely seems like a really nice chap.

…Although, to get back to the actual book, you probably won’t really want to read this unless you already think that James Herriot is a really nice chap. It’s nice enough, but does rely on a certain amount of goodwill towards the father. Wight is a nice enough author, but you never really get the sense that he’s as comfortable with words as his dad was. You do, however, get the sense that this is mainly a money-making exercise that he was tricked into by unscrupulous publishers. Which is disturbing, at best.

So, yeah. A nice enough read if you’re already passionate about James Herriot, but probably one to give a miss if you’re only a casual reader/have no idea what I’m bleating on about.

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer – Sydney Padua

A unique take on the unrealized invention of the computer in the 1830s by the eccentric polymath Charles Babbage and his accomplice, the daughter of Lord Byron, Ada, Countess of Lovelace. When Ada translated her friend Babbage's plans for the "Difference Engine," her lengthy footnotes contained the first appearance of the general computing theory—one hundred years before an actual computer was built. Sadly, Lovelace died of cancer a few years after publishing the paper, and Babbage never built any of his machines. But now Sydney Padua gives us an alternate reality in which Lovelace and Babbage do build the Difference Engine, and then use it to do battle with the American banking system, the publishing industry, their own fears that their project will lose funding, and a villainous street musician who will force the two friends to reevaluate their priorities—"for the sake of both London and science."

The first of the books I got for my birthday! Because I have read a slightly absurd amount of books since my birthday, doing my usual trick of suddenly speeding up halfway through the year for no discernible reason.

I would definitely recommend this book. I’ve been following the Lovelace and Babbage comic online quite religiously for a few years now, and so most of the things contained within were familiar to me, but it was just so fun to reimmerse myself in them! The humour is great, the drawings are beautiful and the extensive historical footnotes are never less than fascinating. I’m not really sure that I can say anything else without gushing, so save me from insanity and go read this book! Now! Before I start throwing copies at you and crying about Ada Lovelace! +

Encounters with Animals / A Zoo in my Luggage / The Whispering Land / The Aye-Aye and I – Gerald Durrell

Fans of Gerald Durrell’s timeless classic My Family and Other Animals will love this hilarious tale, which finds him as an adult still charmed by his beloved animals.

Grouped together again, to save me basically repeating “animals are nice and I like animals” four times in a row.

I read most, if not all, of the Gerald Durrell books at about the same time that I was first reading the James Herriot books. And so, after finishing James Herriot, decided that Gerald Durrell was also well worth a revisit. Unfortunately while my opinion of Herriot has improved with time, my opinion of Durrell has sort of done the opposite.

I mean, the animal parts of his books are good! And if you’re as animal mad as I am, it’s probably worth reading for those alone. You get the sense that Durrell truly cares for all the animals he encounters, and all of them certainly justify it. There are a lot of fascinating characters in these books, and all of them are treated with a great amount of respect. I frequently found myself wishing that I could cuddle an Aye-Aye too, that I could run around after penguins with wild and unrelenting glee.

Unfortunately, to get to those benefits you do have to get through Durrell’s narration. It’s alright, most of the bits with animals shine, but… It’s sort of the same problem that I had with Call the Midwife, really. While Herriot comes off as a nice man who felt truly fond of those around him, Durrell comes off as a raging jerk who was very hard to be around. I was stunned to find out about his alcoholism and apparently short temper when I first went searching for information on him on the internet, but now I’m not so stunned. To be honest, I spent most of the books feeling sorry for all the people (ALL THE PEOPLE) that he kept treating like cattle.

But I dunno, maybe my stance on this is a little affected by how much I looked up to him when I was a wide-eyed kid. They’re still very good books! Just very different to read, now that I’m an adult who knows what jerkish behaviour looks like.

Batman and Robin, Vol. 1: Batman Reborn / Batman and Robin: Batman vs. Robin / Batman and Robin: Batman and Robin Must Die!

The new Dynamic Duo hits the streets with a bang in their new flying Batmobile to face an assemblage of villains called the Circus of Strange. They also tackle their first mission investigating a child who’s been abducted by the mysterious Domino Killer. But will everything go smoothly? And who exactly are the new Batman and Robin? The newest era of The Dark Knight begins here!

Since this is the first comics-related thing on the list (well, sort of. Shhhhhhh), I might as well explain my stance on comics-stuff here. I’m going to be counting compilations of comics, but not individual comics that I’ve happened to read. This’ll hopefully make the list a little shorter, and will also mean that things get less clogged up with endless (wonderful) comics!

Okay? Good. These are collections of the issues where Dick was Batman and Damian was his Robin. I’ve read a few bits and pieces of this run before, but it was nice to read all of it. From what I can gather Morrison has a fondness for doing weird stories, and this is certainly in evidence here. It didn’t bother me too much, except for the first half of Batman vs. Robin which mainly left me feeling annoyed, but it’s certainly something to be aware of. The plots are interesting, but are also weird and require a lot of concentration a lot of the time.

To be honest, though, the main reason to read these are the characters involved. The combination of Dick and Damian is EXCELLENT, and I spent most of the time grinning stupidly at how well they worked with each other. The rest of the time I spent grinning stupidly at Damian’s FACE. He’s such a little brat, and yet a little brat with a slightly heartbreaking backstory that kept making my shake my fist at the page.

So, yeah. If you don’t like Dick or Damian BUT WHY WOULDN’T YOU, YOU HEARTLESS SAVAGE or Morrison’s writing then you should probably give this a miss. If you do like ANY of those, though, this is definitely worth a go. It’s weird, sometimes, but it has a lot of good points. +

Green Lantern, Vol. 1: Sinestro

In the aftermath of a deadly showdown between the Green Lantern Corps and a mysterious foe from the past, Hal Jordan has been stripped of his ring. Left standing is an unexpected new Green Lantern in town: Sinestro! And now, this renegade GL has set a course for Korugar with one purpose: To free his homeworld from the scourge of his own Sinestro Corps, with the not-so-willing help of Hal Jordan!

Another comics compilation! I’m sorry, these are about to become fairly common from now on. It’s best that you just sit back and accept this.

I only realized that this was nu52 about halfway into reading it, but it was by Geoff Johns so that was alright. It was slightly confusing, because it was by Geoff Johns, but that was also alright. I had enough background knowledge of the Green Lantern mythos to largely get what was going on, so I was only a little confused. That is probably something to keep in mind, though. If you don’t know a decent amount about Green Lantern already you are going to be HELLA CONFUSED. This is not a good jumping on point, no matter what they may tell you. This is, in fact, quite possibly the opposite of a good jumping on point.

It is, however, quite good despite this! Again, mainly because of the characters involved. The plot is sometimes a bit confusing, even if you do actually know stuff about Green Lantern, but Sinestro and Hal bicker their way through it like pros. Sinestro has always been one of my favourite characters and Sinestro/Hal one of my favourite ships, and this really explains just why. He’s a dick, but he’s an interesting dick and his motivations are frequently fascinating. It’s really fun to see him be front and centre, and pretty much taking on the protagonist role throughout the volume (I mean, Hal is still nominally the protagonist. But spends most of his time getting thrown around and giving romantic speeches to Sinestro. So.)

…So, yeah. If you like Sinestro as much as I do, and as much as Johns does let’s be honest here, and know a fair amount about the Green Lantern mythos this is definitely worth a look!

The Infidel Stain – MJ Carter

It's 1841, and three years after we left them at the close of The Strangler Vine, Blake and Avery are reunited in very different circumstances in London. There has been a series of dreadful murders in the slums of the printing district, which the police mysteriously refuse to investigate, and Blake and Avery must find the culprit before he kills again.

The second book in the Blake and Avery series! Technically this is supposed to be grouped with the first one, and maybe I’ll fuse them later and then forget to remove this helpful sentence, but I do what I want.

Anyhow. This was a very good book, and certainly as shippy as the last one. The plot is interesting, and several of the characters introduced in conjunction with it were fun, but the main virtue of the books is the relationship between Blake and Avery. They’ve both changed a lot in the three years since they were parted, but the moment they get back together get right back into staring lovingly into each other’s eyes and working as an excellent team. In fact, I’d probably say that their relationship in this one is even more fun than it was in the last one! They really do bounce incredibly well off each other, and Avery is developing into a far more interesting character because of it!

The one thing that is, perhaps, a bit disappointing compared to the first book is the setting. The setting of the first book, India!, was really interesting and hadn’t really been done before. This one, however, was set in Victorian London. Which is less interesting, and has been done at least a billion times before. I’m not sure where the third book is going to happen, but I hope it’s in a different place. I like Victorian London, but you do start worrying that all the various detectives are going to start brawling in the streets to establish their dominance.

…But otherwise it is a very good book! And definitely recommend if you like historical fiction, or even just really good fiction in general! +

Vicious – V. E. Scwab

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates: brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find: aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge - but who will be left alive at the end?

Yay, more superpowers! I mainly picked this up because it looked like an interesting look at the ramifications of superpowers, and it didn’t disappoint. It managed to be exactly what I like about comics, without being a comic itself. It takes itself seriously, and has some REALLY disturbing ideas in it (you gain superpowers when you have a near death experience, and those superpowers are based on your dying thoughts), and yet exists in a really fun world. It’s dark, but it isn’t gritty. A fair few people have fun, nobody broods and you generally get the sense – even through the page – that everything is bright and over the top. Just like comics should be.

It’s probably not for everybody, if really disturbing death scenes and numerous mentions of torture squick you out then it might be best to give this one a miss, but if you’re looking for a slightly different but still extremely fun look at how superheroes and superpowers work this is definitely worth a look!

(And then, once you’ve given it a look, it’s also worth writing a hundred AUs for. Come on, people, gimme my slightly disturbing superpower AUs. You know you want to.) +

The Killing Joke

For the first time the Joker's origin is revealed in this tale of insanity and human perseverance. Looking to prove that any man can be pushed past his breaking point and go mad, the Joker attempts to drive Commissioner Gordon insane.

I mainly read this because of the controversy over the film adaptation, and… Yeah. I can see where that controversy was coming from. This is meant to be one of the best regarded Batman stories, but mainly it left me cold. This was published over twenty years ago, so maybe that’s why, but the painful humiliation of a wonderful female character just to give the men around her something to angst over is a very boring thing to read.

And, honestly, that’s my main feeling over this. Yes, I was a little offended, but mainly I was just bored. Wow, men telling male stories about how important male emotions are. How very, very interesting for them. -

The Bone Thief – VM Whitworth

Edward, son of Alfred the Great, has inherited the Kingdom of Wessex and achieved a precarious set of alliances through marriage and military conquest. But the alliance is uneasy and the kingdom of Mercia has more reason than most to fear the might of Wessex. Their Lord is elderly and perhaps mortally sick, and his wife fears that she does not have the power to withstand hostile takeover. She also knows too well what her neighbour is capable of -- after all, King Edward is her brother.

The chance to rescue St Oswald's bones, beloved patron saint, to consecrate her new church and unite the people behind her, is too good an opportunity to miss. But they are rumoured to be buried a long way north -- outside Lincoln, deep in hostile territory. Her secretary, Wulfgar, groomed for the priesthood since he was a boy in the elegant cloisters of Winchester cathedral but naïve in the ways of the wider world -- is surprised to be sent on this mission. It will prove an incredibly dangerous journey, requiring resources and courage Wulfgar did not know he had, and support from surprising allies along the way including a maverick priest and a Viking adventuress whose loyalties are far from clear.

Yet another historical fiction book! I was about to type historical crime book, but I’m honestly not sure that I’d describe it as that. It’s more a historical caper than anything else? A historical shindig? A historical run-around? You get the drift?

Anyhow… I enjoyed it? Generally it was quite good. The characters were interesting, at the very least, and some of the history presented was quite fascinating. It never really grabbed me, though. I gave it 3 stars on goodreads, apparently, and I’m starting to remember why. The most accurate word I can think of to describe this book is serviceable. It does what it sets out to do, and generally does it well, but never really rises beyond a paint by numbers approach. The characters moved from place to place and did all the things required of them, but never really shine. And, as a result, I never really found myself feeling that invested in their adventures.

I mean, it’s still good! And I’d recommend it if you’re desperately hankering after a new historical fiction novel. But, really, unless you really desperately are it’s probably not going to be of that much interest to you.

Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon / Hawkeye, Vol. 2: Little Hits / Hawkeye, Vol. 3: L.A. Woman / Hawkeye, Vol. 4: Rio Bravo

The breakout star of this summer's blockbuster Avengers film, Clint Barton - aka the self-made hero Hawkeye - fights for justice! With ex-Young Avenger Kate Bishop by his side, he's out to prove himself as one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes! SHIELD recruits Clint to intercept a packet of incriminating evidence - before he becomes the most wanted man in the world. You won't believe what is on The Tape! What is the Vagabond Code? Matt Fraction pens a Hawkeye thriller that spans the globe...and the darkest parts of Hawkeye's mind. Barton and Bishop mean double the Hawkeye and double the trouble...and stealing from the rich never looked so good.

Oh, man, I loved this comic so much. I basically finished most of it in a weekend, and then realized that I didn’t have the final volume so immediately went and brought it. It was just… Really, really fun. And pretty! And just interesting in a way that really got me involved. Clint is a human bag of garbage, yes, but he’s a really well written and really interesting one. And Kate is one of the most fantastic characters that I’ve ever encountered. And pizza dog! And Gil! And Barney! And EVERYBODY!

…And I shall stop here, before I start frothing at the mouth about how great everybody is. All I shall say is that all the hype is true, and this is definitely worth checking out no matter what +

Teen Titans, Vol. 1: A Kid's Game / Teen Titans, Vol. 2: Family Lost / Teen Titans, Vol. 3: Beast Boys and Girls / Teen Titans, Vol. 4: The Future is Now

As the adolescent sidekicks of the world's most powerful heroes, Robin, Superboy, Wonder Girl, and Impulse have fought alongside their mentors in many battles. But when Cyborg, a former teen hero, realizes that this new generation of super-heroes needs to be guided and trained, he recruits the young adventurers into the new Teen Titans. Now as Earth's future champions begin working together as a unified team, they quickly learn the true consequences of the path they have chosen.

I’ve been wanting to check out this run of Teen Titans for a while now, and so it was quite good to finally get around to it! This wasn’t my favourite run of comics I’ve read this year, but was still pretty fun. The characters are all really interesting, the mini-trinity in particular have very much won my heart, and I really enjoyed the interactions between them. The only thing I’d really say against it is that the plots could’ve been a little better. A lot of them were alright, but not really that interesting and often wrapped up in a disappointingly quick amount of time. And… Yeah. I would’ve frequently preferred them to go into more detail, and feel less like an afterthought.

Still, though, they were a lot of fun! And if you like team dynamics this is definitely worth a look. :D

Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin

In a world where inexperienced superheroes operate under a cloud of suspicion from the public, loner vigilante Batman has stumbled upon a dark evil that threatens to destroy the earth as we know it. Now, faced with a threat far beyond anything he can handle on his own, the Dark Knight must trust an alien, a scarlet speedster, an accidental teenage hero, a space cop, an Amazon Princess and an undersea monarch. Will this combination of Superman, The Flash, Cyborg, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Aquaman be able to put aside their differences and come together to save the world? Or will they destroy each other first?

I mainly brought this because I kept seeing this on my rare forays into tumblr, and felt like seeing what everyone was talking about!

So, yeah, this was fun! Nothing particularly unique, but still fairly enjoyable. Aliens attack the earth, the Justice League has to save it, a great amount of fun happens. The main highlight, to me, was the interaction between Bruce and Hal – “Who the hell is Bruce Wayne?” – but everything else was quite fun too. I probably won’t be picking up any more volumes, I have too much to get through as it is!, but this was very nice as a light thing to get a bit more experience with the Justice League.

(Not to mention Hal/Bruce. It is nice how Geoff Johns’ shipping tastes align with mine.)

DC Comics: Bombshells Vol. 1

The ultra-popular statues from DC Collectibles come to life in their own ongoing comic book series! Learn the story behind this alternate reality where the Second World War is fought by superpowered women on the front lines and behind the scenes! It all begins with the stories of Batwoman, Wonder Woman and Supergirl.

And now onto the final entry (so far)! I started reading the Bombshells series mainly because I’d heard good buzz about it, and it’s really grown on me. The art, so far, is beautiful and the characters involved are all really interesting. I wasn’t so invested in the story in the first two issues, I’m not really sure why, but as of the last one – the one with Supergirl – I’ve also become quite into that too. I’m not sure I’d recommend it, just yet, but I’m definitely going to keep reading. And, hey, if you like gorgeous art and a really interesting look at an alternate history then it’s certainly worth a look!

Soooooo what is next? Well, at the moment I’m reading The Hero of Ages - Brandon Sanderson which is the third and final book in the Mistborn trilogy. I’m also carrying on with Teen Titans, slowly but surely. I’ve also ALSO just started reading Mad Love, Harley Quinn’s origin story, and am probably going to go on to Green Lantern: Rebirth after that. So, yeah, a lot of reading still to be done!

At this rate I’m hoping to get to 75 books this year. And, if I reach that, possibly even 100. I’ll try to actually remember to do a review post at 75 books this time! As opposed to looking back several months later and remembering that I’m still sitting on it…


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 11th, 2015 04:46 pm (UTC)
Have you tried the audio versions of the Rivers of London books? The reader is genuinely excellent. what do you mean audiobooks are for people who are too lazy to do the voices themselves

And Foxglove Summer is one of my absolute faves (I think Whispers Underground and Broken Homes tie for the first place because FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELS) but toally Needs Moar Nightingale. And Molly. I know the series is Peter's story but GIVE ME ALL THE NIGHTINGALE PLS. I'm debating getting Body Work (the graphic novel based on the series - not an adaptation but an actual NEW STORY YAY) before the new novel drops in November.

Would you read another Gillian Flynn or is Gone Girl the only one you're going to go for? Some of my friends have said that her other titles are even better than Gone Girl. Also there is nothing wrong with preferring the movie - I have been asked if I want to be "that person" who has never read LOTR despite calling myself a fan. Because y'know, pretty movies are pretty. People like that just annoy me.

I remember thinking Arrian was the Serious Journalist and Plutarch was the catty blogger, lol. And SUETONIUS! YES.
Sep. 12th, 2015 09:09 am (UTC)
Not yet! But, then, I always find it fairly hard to get into audio books. I'm not entirely sure why. And I am definitely considering getting Body Work at some point! Especially if the next book is coming out in November. I really like the whole universe, so!

And I would definitely consider reading more Gillian Flynn! Not sure when, though. The mien problem is that my reading list is ABSURDLY long at present moment.

And, yeah, I've never got the books over films bit. They're two completely different things, they can rarely be judged together.

Sep. 11th, 2015 05:56 pm (UTC)
Look! Is fun!

I keep coming across random Classics posts on Tumblr and want to squee over them with someone and then a lightbulb went off overhead ;)
Sep. 12th, 2015 11:14 am (UTC)

I'm not on tumblr anymore, it generally annoys me far too much, but I do spot the occasional amusing thing.
Sep. 12th, 2015 02:27 pm (UTC)
I'm not even on it, I just lurk on this one account for Dragon Age related stuff, and she keeps coming up with these great history posts on her friends page (or whatever they call it over there).
Sep. 12th, 2015 01:58 am (UTC)
Lol true story I almost picked up Gods of Gotham the other day just because sometimes I'm THAT easy when it comes to titles. I'm glad I didn't!

HAMLET IS MY FAVORITE I'M SORRY. I read it almost every year but I also don't really like most of the adaptations of it lol. I do love Rosencrantz & Guildenstern though. :3

I HATE THE KILLING JOKE SO MUCH OH LOOOOOOOOOORDY. I mean it's just disgusting all around and the fact that they're choosing that story for an adaptation instead of, idk, 900 other great stories makes me want to throw things.

The main highlight, to me, was the interaction between Bruce and Hal – “Who the hell is Bruce Wayne?”
BRUCE WAYNE IS BATMAN?? YEAH, AND HE'S A TOTAL TOOL. Honestly I was so ready to hate reboot!JLA and I immediately got over that because everyone just trolls each other and it's kind of hilarious. The movie is also pretty damn good if you haven't seen it yet! (Hal calling Bruce "Spooky" in one of them is kind of everything.)

And it's funny you say that about Bombshells because I LOVED the first issue, but since then I've mostly been meh. Probably because I hate the Joker's Daughter like burning regardless of the incarnation, but yeah. I'M STICKING WITH IT THOUGH I WANNA KNOW WHAT THEY DO WITH SELINA. AND HARLEY. AND IVY.

And oh gosh Mad Love. I know everyone has their opinions on it and you know how I feel about Joker but that is the first comic I EVER read when I was like. Nine or whatever, so it's pretty much still the love of my life. There is some definite oh my god Harley stop with this relationship bullshit buuuuuut she is also fab in a lot of places. PLUS THERE IS AT LEAST ONE QUOTE I STILL REPEAT ON AN ALMOST DAILY BASIS. :3
Sep. 12th, 2015 09:36 am (UTC)
Ha! Tbh, I mainly picked it up BECAUSE of the title. But, no, it was absolutely shit. I tried to read it for two months, and eventually got so mad at it that I just threw it violently aside. It's on top of our bookcase now, actually, because it doesn't deserve shelf space...

NUUUUUUUUU ON FIRE NOW. But, nah, that's totally alright! I think my stance on Hamlet is that the play itself is alright, but most if the adaptations make me angry. Especially as it seems to be frequently the ONLY play that gets adapted, and there are so many other interesting ones!

I was expecting to at least find it vaguely interesting, but... I really didn't? I mean, Babs deserved a thousand times better. I think we can all agree that.

And JLA was just SO MUCH FUN, seriously. I think I liked it so much because it did focus so much on the team dynamics and the way they all interact together. And I laughed so many times at poor Barry being stuck between them all and trying to be the sane one. BLESS. (I haven't watched the movie yet, alas, but I think P has a copy of it somewhere. So, yes, hopefully soon. :D)

I've now read four issues and... I'm honestly not sure what to think about it. I mean, I loved one but with the rest I honestly don't know. I might see if it improves over the next few issues. And, if I still don't like it, maybe drop it and only swing back in for Harley and Ivy? IDK.

I've read it now! And... Yeah, I super loved it. :D In a way, I almost thought that it was an antidote to The Killing Joke? In that it treated the traumatic experiences of a female character with respect, while focusing on her side of the story. It could've easily focused on Bruce angsting over the situation - but, no, it was entirely about Harley and her reactions and decisions. And I was super fond of that. (Plus the introduction thing, written by Timm, basically went "THIS IS A REALLY SHITTY RELATIONSHIP AND WE DO NOT AT ALL REGARD IT AS ROMANTIC" so. Points! :D)

Sep. 12th, 2015 10:53 am (UTC)

I reaaaally liked the ones with Mera, but other than that recently it's been pretty meh. I don't even know what's HAPPENING with Zee, and I usually love her.

EEEEEE I'M SO HAPPY. Yep, yep, all of those things, aw gosh. I get a lot of shit for Harley being my fave but eeeevery time I read it I don’t care because for all the mess in her head it shows how fucking SMART she is. (Bruce Timm is so important to meeee.)
Sep. 12th, 2015 11:11 am (UTC)
My main problem with Bombshells is that it doesn't really seem to have that much direction? I mean, it's hella pretty but otherwise seems to be a little messy.

...IDK, maybe it's just because I don't like the Second World War much as a historical setting? But we shall see, I suppose. Hopefully it'll become a little more coherent as it progresses!

HOW CAN YOU DISLIKE HARLEY SHE IS A RAINBOW IN HUMAN FORM. Ugh, that's like disliking Dick Grayson... I mean, yeah she can (and has) be written shittily. But when she's written well, by Timm and in the snatches of her current solo title that I've seen, SHE IS THE BEST. She's just so bright and resilient and REALLY SMART. And makes awful decisions, yeah, but does it in such a way that you're still usually completely on her side afterwards?
Sep. 12th, 2015 02:07 pm (UTC)
Agreed! They need to figure out what they're doing.

Ugh, that's like disliking Dick Grayson...
There are people who do this and it makes me so upsettttt.
Sep. 17th, 2015 11:04 am (UTC)
HOW CAN PEOPLE DISLIKE DICK GRAYSON. That boy is a gift to humankind, and should be worshiped as such...
Sep. 12th, 2015 04:42 pm (UTC)
Redshirts sounds like fun!

Omg, I loved that Batman & Robin run. Grant Morrison can be super weird when he wants to be, and the stuff in the first volume with the face-grafting and Professor Pyg was honestly too creepy for me, but I loved Dick and Damian as Batman and Robin. It's kind of an inversion of the regular Batman and Robin dynamic, since Damian is the cranky violent one, so that's really fun, and I adored Damian trying so hard to be good and Dick trying to be understanding even when Damian was running around being a terror.

The characters are all really interesting, the mini-trinity in particular have very much won my heart, and I really enjoyed the interactions between them. The only thing I’d really say against it is that the plots could’ve been a little better.
Yeah, I've read a lot of random volumes of Teen Titans out of order when I could get them from the library, and while I'm interested in the characters the plots really aren't that great. The Brother Blood arc especially I just really didn't care for.

I'm reading Bombshells, too! :)
Sep. 17th, 2015 11:09 am (UTC)
It was! I didn't straight up love it, but it still a lot of fun and obviously written by somebody who loved Sci-Fi.

I really liked it! Mainly because of the dynamic, I will admit. It just felt really fun and really new, and showed both characters in a really interesting light. And having Dick as Batman was AMAZING, mainly because he is so different from Bruce and yet still so dedicated to doing the right thing.

With Teen Titans I just felt that none of the plots were building up to anything. I mean, the characters and the concept were enough to keep me interested (I loved pretty much all of the characters, to be honest) but I would have preferred a little more of them actually doing things and a little less random confusion. Also I kept getting annoyed at Deathstroke and the amount of times he turned up.

Yay! That's good. :D I really need to make a post listing the comics that I've been reading, there are a lot of them...
Sep. 13th, 2015 02:00 am (UTC)
I went through phases with Hamlet. The first time I read it, I adored it, totally identified with Hamlet, and everything. Granted, I was fifteen years old and in my second year of high school, so it was kind of a shitty time in general and I was probably really pretentious about the whole thing.

Then I reread it as an undergrad and got really angry with him for how badly he treated Ophelia and also got fed up with everyone going on about how it was the greatest play ever. I sat in my corner with Othello and R&J and the history plays and stuck my tongue out (metaphorically) at the world for awhile.

Since then I've come round to a more balanced opinion. And I do genuinely like two of the recent productions, both of which have been filmed but only one released properly. The 2008 RSC production with David Tennant and Patrick Stewart is wonderful and went a long way to making me love Hamlet again. And Rory Kinnear might in fact be the world's most adorably dorky Hamlet in the 2009 National Theatre production that has sadly not been released on DVD but might be available through less straightforward channels...
Sep. 17th, 2015 11:13 am (UTC)
It's a fairly good play, is the thing, I just get a little annoyed by some of the attitudes around it. When I did Shakespeare modules at university it usually seemed that half the module was devoted to Hamlet, and pretty much every actor seems to have played Hamlet at some point. I just want more focus on Macbeth! Is that so much to ask?

Saying that, though, I have genuinely loved a few of the productions. And, when done right, it is an absolutely brilliant play to watch. So I certainly don't hate it! I mean, it did produce a cowboy western version! So, I can get behind that. ^^
Sep. 17th, 2015 12:18 pm (UTC)
Hehe, yes, I absolutely understand the annoyance that everybody feels the need to do Hamlet at the expense of other plays. (I admit I sort of have the same problem with King Lear at times--it's an amazing, devastating play, but for my late Shakespeare dollar, so to speak, I adore Antony & Cleopatra and would love to see more productions made available.)
Sep. 18th, 2015 09:24 am (UTC)
There are so many great shakespearean roles I'd like to see people take on, and yet few of them ever seem to look beyond Hamlet. I mean, Macbeth! Richard II! Othello! The Tempest! Antony and Cleopatra! Basically every single Shakespeare play!

Ah well, at least some actors do roles other than Hamlet. And I suppose I can't actually take over the theater world and force them to do adaptations of my favourite plays over and over again. :P
Sep. 18th, 2015 12:30 pm (UTC)
Hahaha, I know, right? A friend of mine started her own theatre company at least partly so they could do all the crazy revenge tragedies that nobody else did. Sadly I no longer live in the same city as her so I haven't been able to see any of their productions yet.
Sep. 22nd, 2015 05:03 pm (UTC)
That's a pity! There's so many plays I want to see, and yet they so rarely seem to be done. It's just annoying, really. :P
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