Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Comic Review: Batman and Robin vol 4: Requiem for Damian

Requiem for Damian
Batman and Robin vol 4 (#18-23)
written by Peter J Tomasi
art by Patrick Gleason
DC Comics

The entire first issue is wordless, except for a letter at the end. It amazes me how much can be conveyed with just illustrations, and Patrick Gleason is a master at projecting feelings of grief. I was sobbing during the whole 18th issue, because it felt like a hole had been carved into my chest. One notable aspect to this comic was that each chapter was titled after a stage of grief: Denial; Rage... the list goes on.I found it to be creative and it added to the intensity of the grief.

Tell me this doesn't give you feels
Let me tell you a story.
When I first read some random comic with Damian, the newest Robin, I detested him. I thought him a little brat. But after reading Tomasi and Gleason's work on Batman and Robin, I've grown to adore the little brat. He's like an annoying little brother. After his death in Batman Inc. #__, I was horrified, and vowed never to read any more batman stuff, simply because I find Batman to be boring without his Batfamily, Damian most importantly. Issue 18 was the cathartic end I needed from the horrific and insulting death of Damian. It was a flawless issue.

As if that weren't foreshadowing enough

Now onwards, onto the rest of the story, where my hatred for the incompetence that is DC grows. We are introduced to Carrie Kelley. Any Frank Miller fans will recognise her immediately, and it's no accident that she was written in. Her sudden removal was a conscious, last minute decision by editorial to cancel the story that Tomasi had already spent several issues working on. Tomasi had been introducing us and the Batfamily to this strange girl with a love for Shakespeare, and an instant bond with the late Damian's dog, and it feels like it's all gone to waste.
This volume builds up Carrie's rise to being a Robin, but SPOILEr ALERT, all that goes down the drain in vol 5.

Overall, a fun yet poignant novel that deals with grief and the memories that make death worth living for.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Review: The Nutcracker Bleeds + Giveaway

The Nutcracker Bleeds
by Lani Lenore

Pages: 606

Publisher: Self-published

Date Released: 3rd December, 2014


A horrific retelling of the classic Nutcracker story. On Christmas Eve in 1905, a household in London finds itself under a centuries-old curse when a strange new toy is brought into the house.
A young nanny named Anne is immersed in the horrific world of her unstable charge, Olivia, when a bite from a mouse makes her the size of a doll. She must brave a world of mangled and demented toys that have come to life. Each has his own vendetta - the most unrelenting of which is the mysterious and handsomely-carved nutcracker, who becomes Anne’s only sane ally.
There is war in the lower levels of the house between the rodents and the toys, yet Anne's only concern is getting Olivia and herself back to the way they once were before it is too late for either of them. (From Goodreads) 

Now, I don't usually read or review self-pubbed books. It's a waste of my time slugging through the thousands of mediocre books to find that one gem. But here I am to tell you that I've found a gem.

I've been a fan of Lani Lenore for nearly a decade, when she published her stories on fictionpress.com and fanfiction.net, and when she decided to pull her stories, rewrite, and publish them, I immediately got my hands on her work.

In The Nutcracker Bleeds, a dark retelling of the Christmas tale of The Nutcracker, we are thrown into a world where toys come to life during the night, and are thrust in the midst of a war between toys and mice. When Olivia and her maid Ann are shrunk due to mouse magic, they are forced to find their own roles in this world: Olivia as Queen of the toys, and Ann, a wayward girl who might be the catalyst to everything.

The plot is definitely the star of the show. It never stops being a thrilling ride, there's always something happening. This makes it a quick read, despite its crazy length (600+ pages on the ebook). It is almost overwhelming, the amount of action that's flung in your face.

Their foe comes in the form of the Rat King, who has a limited supply of magic, and in order to replenish his magic levels enough to turn back into a human, he must eat either tiny Olivia or tiny Ann. Thus, his army of rats and mice are constantly on the lookout for the girls, and kill any toys that come in their way.

Olivia is nonplussed about the whole situation, so sure that her toy guards will protect her in her fortress of books. Not only that, but she pines after her brand new nutcracker, Armand.
Armand is a curious character. Made of wood, but with the heart of a human, he was transformed into a nutcracker by the Rat King many centuries ago. His mission is to defeat the Rat King and become a human again.

The cast of characters is massive, and it's so fun to see all the interactions between all the characters. There's a puppet who carved himself a wooden phallus; a glutton of a toy who gorges on food that rots within him; and an androgynous doll who lusts after Armand, so much so that he plans on replacing Armand's head with his own.

There are multiple threads of narrative, and they all interweave nicely, and get tied up in interesting--though sometimes convenient--ways. Ann and Armand's endings felt too good to be true, and I think that was my main disappointment.

I found this an engaging read, and it saddens me that so few people know about Lani Lenore and her work, so I've decided to give away my physical copy of The Nutcracker Bleeds.

Cover Art: 4
Writing: 3
Plot: 5
Characters: 4
Interest: 4


4 stars

The giveaway is international, but there are certain rules to enter. 
Firstly, you must be a follower, whether by email, bloglovin', or GFC. Leave a message with your email or username so I can check.
Second, you must leave a comment, stating your favourite retelling, whether mythological, fairytale, or other. Be creative, think of obscure titles, anything goes!
You get an extra entry for advertising it on twitter/on your blog/tumblr/whatever. Just leave a link to it in your comment.

The comp ends 30th of August, so just over a month from now.

May the odds be ever in your favour! 

Comic Review: We Are Robin #1

We Are Robin #1
Written by Lee Berjimo
Art by Jorge Corona
DC Comics

This is the first issue of the new We Are Robin series, and it certainly leaves an impression. Instead of Batman choosing a Robin, it's people with courage and a thirst for justice that choose to take on a mantle, and that, I find, is far nobler.
The story follows Duke Thomas, whose parents were caught in one of Joker's schemes, and are now lost to him. He's now stuck in the flawed foster system, and is intent on finding his parents since Batman won't.

It has hints of a cultural revolution happening, one that the newer generation are cultivating.

It builds a solid foundation for forthcoming issues, and briefly introduces the other Robins, who are of varied genders and races. I loved that, how inclusive it is. Even Duke is an African-American teen who gets in trouble too often, going from foster home to foster home.

My biggest gripe was the art. It was decent enough, except for the faces. Everyone's faces looks slouchy and almost Neanderthaloid.

Art: 2
Writing: 3.5
Plot: 3.5
Characters: 4
Interest: 4

4 stars

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Review: The Girl at Midnight

The Girl at Midnight
by Melissa Grey

Pages:  361

Publisher: ATOM

Date Released: April 28th 2015

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

It is believed that only one thing will stop the centuries-old war between the bird-like Avicen and the dragon folk, the Drakharin, and it's up to Echo to find it.

After being found in a library after dark, Echo is adopted by the Ala, one of the Avicen, and brought to live in their magical world, hidden amongst the folds of humanity. When given the opportunity to end the war that ravages her people, Echo jumps at the chance, even if it means following a fairytale.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Feature Follow Friday

Feature Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read, and is a way to meet and greet new followers.
So hello any new followers! Feel free to say hi on this post.

This weeks question is: Do you have any literary tattoos?

I have quotation marks behind my ears

These were my first ever tattoos, and I adore them so much :)

My non-bookish tattoos include my bees knees

My watercolour lavender, symbolising self-healing

And finally my moon, in homage to feminism and Sailor Moon

Review: Sabriel by Garth Nix

by Garth Nix

Pages:  395

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Date Released: September 2014 (originally published 1995)

Genre: fantasy

For many years Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the random power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who won't stay dead. But now her father, the Mage Abhorsen, is missing, and to find him Sabriel must cross back into that treacherous world - and face the power of her own extraordinary destiny. (Source Goodreads)

This is a book I wish I'd read when I was a pre-teen. It seems to be everyone's childhood favourite story. So, here it is: adult-Jess's review of the first of the Old Kingdom Chronicles.

Sabriel is an interesting character. At first I thought she was going to be a Mary Sue because she's got almost perfect grades, but I loved her realisation that good grades don't mean anything when applied to the real world, and that's when I got really interested.
Sabriel is so sure that her father is in Balisaere--with no evidence, merely a hunch--so when she does find him there, it feels like an act of deus ex machina. She simply knows what to do, without any apparent training. So, it's hard to know exactly how I feel about her, because she changes so often.

I'm not a fan of the romance. It came out of nowhere and only had a small amount of pages to really develop. I'm sure pre-teen Jess would have lapped what little romance there was, but as an adult, I feel cheated and disappointed.

Despite that, the world is a truly magical place. The Wall separates Ancelstierre from The Old Kingdom, where the Old Magic thrives, but at a price. Here, zombie-like creatures of the dead walk about, controlled by a Dead Adept called Kerrigor. It's a wonderful blend of fantasy and horror, giving the book a chilling tone. It's a world I look forward to submerging myself into, over and over again.

The magic system is very original, based on music. It has a very intricate and other feeling to it, but the way the bells are described left me slightly confused. Despite this, I loved the Old Magic that pulsed through the book, giving life to a magical being in a cat's body called Mogget, and a bastard prince stuck as a figurehead on a lost and dilapidated ship. I'm always a fan of animal companions in books, and wish there were more. Taggle from Plain Kate comes to mind, as another magical novel with a cat as an ally.

Despite my grievances, I enjoyed the book. It was fun. It was magical. It was exactly what pre-teen Jess would have adored, and I'm truly downhearted that I didn't read this sooner. Thankfully, though, I have three more books in this series to bury myself in, and I can't wait.

Cover Art: 4 
Writing: 3 
Characters: 3
Plot: 4
Interest: 3
3 stars

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Comic Review: Gotham Academy vol 1

Welcome to Gotham Academy
Gotham Academy vol 1 (issues #1-6)
written by Becky Cloonan & Brenden Fletcher
art by Karl Kerschl
DC Comics

Published: 17th June 2015

Source: galley from the publishers

Gotham City's most prestigious prep school is a very weird place. It's got a spooky campus, oddball teachers, and rich benefactors always dropping by...like that weirdo Bruce Wayne. But nothing is as strange as the students! 
Like, what's up with Olive Silverlock? Is she crazy or what? Where did she go last summer? And what's the deal with her creepy mom? And how come that Freshman Maps is always following her around? And is she still going out with Kyle? P.S. Did you hear the rumor about the ghost in the North Hall?! (source Goodreads)

This was one of my most anticipated comics from DC. As much as I love DC, I'd been getting bored of them constantly catering to white middle class males, so it's nice that they branched out to their teen female audience.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Lady Thor, a review

Thor 4, vol 1 (#1-5)
written by Jason Aaron,
art by Russell Dauterman & Jorge Molina
Marvel Comics

After Nick Fury whispered the words that made Thor an unworthy wielder of Mjolnir, a new face has picked up the hammer, and all its responsibilities. Not everyone is pleased with this notion--Odin will fight to the death to find the thief--but it can't be helped for the hammer itself says

"Whoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of... Thor."