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review 2017-06-18 22:21
Timely read!
Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year One - The Complete Collection (Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013-2016)) - Mike Miller,Bruno Redondo,Tom Taylor

I doubt that DC, or Tom Taylor, the author of this book, could have foreseen the autocracy Trump is trying to make the US when they came up with the concept of Injustice.   (And I believe this is a tie-in to a game, so same goes for those who came up with the concept, or wrote for, the game.)  Regardless, here we are, with this more timely and meaningful than ever.   This rant/review needs a warning.   Because, there will be a political rant and a Secret Empire rant, and comparing and contrasting this to Secret Empire, and there will be bitchiness and sassiness.   


First, let me tell you why this is a five star review on its own, and would be even if the clusterfuck known as Secret Empire weren't happening.   It's not only  dystopian future about Superman losing his shit, and turning the whole world into an autocracy, but it's a hell of a lot of fun.   This is serious, grave, and just when it gets all too depressing, Tom Taylor throws in a hilarious scene that is not only relevant, but receives the tension enough to make the next horror bearable.   It's deftly handled, and while it's mostly Batman as the freedom fighter against Superman's iron fist tactics, there's a lot more going on here.   It's not just the humor: there's a breadth to this story, a lot about what freedom means, and how ordinary people see Superman's takeover, that makes it far more than simply another superhero beatdown.   The art is, by the way, lovely.   It's not one of my favorite artists, and I in fact wasn't fond of some of the art at first, but it not only grew on me, but made me see that there were details that I adored.   (To be a favorite, someone has to do something truly original, or spectacular, or both.   If it's just original, it has to be competent at least, although the better the art combined with the originality, the better.)


The storyline is compelling, especially now, and seeing people like Batman, and Green Arrow, and even those closer to Superman horrified by Clark Kent's actions is just a brilliant twist of the knife.   (Superman is outted as Clark Kent, although he does the outting himself.)   When his wife, Lois Lane, and his unborn child are killed, Superman just loses his cool.   Completely.   To the point that he not only murders The Joker, who was responsible, in retaliation, he also turns on Batman.   He accuses Batman as being equally responsible, for not having taken care of - or murdered - The Joker before this happened.   Batman should have at least put The Joker away somewhere more secure than Arkham according to Superman. 


When Superman determines that he can't lose more, he also decides that no one else can.   He wants to save humanity from itself by enforcing peace, and thus forcing it upon everyone.   If they can't compromise, he will compromise for them.   Wonder Woman is thrilled: she wants that peace, and apparently will accept it at any cost.   Batman stands by his position: not only can he not kill anyone, he can't force people to do anything.   (The exception is putting people in prison, but they are taken in, and then he allows them their day in court.  He doesn't believe he should take matters into his own, and he doesn't believe the Justice League should act as judges, juries, and executioners, either.) From here on out, the Justice League is divided, and it's small moments, when they choose to comprise, or fight, and how that makes this so worthwhile.


I should note that while this isn't original, it's not because of Secret Empire.   This is all kinds of shades of Kingdom Come, except that was depressing as shit for me.   This was far more fun, and made more of an impact on me.  (There's also a reference to a specific Batman storyline that stunned me, because of how brutal and unexpected it was, to be honest.   And then that happened, and I was smirking in amusement again.)


Now the political/Secret Empire rant, and the comparing and contrasting.   Secret Empire would have you believe that a superhero fight against fascism kinda had to be done this way to show the way that fascism can only really be shown with Captain America becoming a Hydra agent because it's the only way to show the slow creep of normalization for this.  Um, no, let me tell you: this did so, in the way that people in the graphic novel cheered for Superman, without creating that kind of controversy.   Marvel, I believe, did so only to get said controversy.   


Nick Spencer argues that if a symbol is static, something, something, badness.   So, here's the thing: Superman is the apple-pie, good ol' American boy that Captain America is.   DC, and Tom Taylor, changed him - without changing what he stood for.   And all the arguments about Kirby creating him that way, etc, etc?   It's not that I don't believe that Kirby would have been a bit horrified, but who knows?   I can't tell with Kirby being dead. What I do know is that Marvel created a symbol that meant something to their audience, and especially to a segment of their audience who had been through a combined trauma a couple generations ago.  They can't force the audience, or those who are still dealing with what that trauma meant to their family, to change the way they perceived that symbol.   I think the problem is that they thought they could, and that people would simply accept that, and they didn't.    Superman didn't cause that level of controversy in Injustice because DC didn't want to manufacture outrage, and so they came up with a plausible way to turn Superman into a fascist without trampling on the way that people viewed Superman.  


This also doesn't deal with the specifics of the Trump era - the misogyny and racism - but it didn't pit minorities against each other the way that the reaction to Secret Empire did.   (You either were on board, or hated that minorities were fighting fascists.   And again, the Jews are blamed for their own trauma that happened in the Holocaust, and reacting to a symbol of hope during the Holocaust and afterwards being used as a fascist to make a point.)  I can be a Jew, feel that trauma, and want to read a book that has minorities - not my people, but other minorities - fighting fascism.   I don't want to read this particular book because I don't want to relieve decades worth of nightmares.   But, thanks, great, what Nick Spencer has done has made my emotional and mental safety mean less to some people than the message.   And while I hate Secret Empire, people who read it love it, and good for them.  I can't.  


I may try to get to some Pymtron and Vision panels eventually, but it's doubtful I'll even read whole issues.   


What's really startling, though, is that DC managed to get the same general message across, without the same outcry.  They cared more about telling the story than about manufacturing clickbait articles to cause sales.  And they did so well enough that Injustice is, I believe, in its fifth year.   If the sales weren't good enough, I'm sure DC would drop this title, and yet here we are.   DC outdid Marvel, before Marvel even tried, and perhaps if Marvel stopped, took a look at this, and how it was done, and did the same, they'd be better off for this. 


But Marvel doesn't, because they're sure they're doing it right and if they do enough events, people will see this.   Good luck to them, but, damn, I wish they'd take a page from DC's playbook!


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text 2017-06-16 15:19
Wonder Woman novelization
Wonder Woman: The Official Movie Novelization - Nancy Holder

I had to do a quick stop at Walmart last night. I spotted this and couldn't resist getting it. A movie novelization that isn't a Junior novel, yay!


I'm not planning on reading it just yet, but I did take a look at a few of my favorite scenes from the movie. I have a feeling this won't get above a 3-star rating from me. The scenes I read weren't bad, but there was very little extra for those who've seen the movie (like character thoughts, info that couldn't be shown on-screen, etc.), and the action was better on-screen. Oh well, maybe other scenes will be better.

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text 2017-06-16 13:30
Summer books you can't miss!


Summer is coming.


Now, after I've made that trying- to-be ASoIaF reference, it's time to talk about books! This time of the year is all about light. easy, enjoyable read no matter if you are somewhere on the beach with salt in your hair or lying in your aparment under the air conditioner.

I loved and utterly enjoyed every book listed below and highly recommend you read them!

1) Always and Forever, Lara Jean - Jenny Han




 Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?



2) Everything, Everything - Nicola Yoon




Alexis Wyndham is the other type of Queen B—the Queen Bitch. 

After years of being the subject of ridicule, she revels in her ability to make the in-crowd cower via the exposés on her blog, The Eastline Spy. Now that she's carved out her place in the high school hierarchy, she uses her position to help the unpopular kids walking the hallways. 

Saving a freshman from bullies? Check. 
Swapping insults with the head cheerleader? Check. 
Falling for the star quarterback? So not a part of her plan. 

But when Brett offers to help her solve the mystery of who’s posting X-rated videos from the girls’ locker room, she’ll have to swallow her pride and learn to see past the high school stereotypes she’s never questioned—until now.



3) 1000 Days of Spring - Tomislav Perko





A true story of a young successful stockbroker going broke, and lifting his thumb in search for his true self, by traveling the world.

After almost five years of traveling on five different continents, Tomislav laid down in a hammock in one village on the coast of Ecuador, and started writing a book. 

He was determined to put down everything he knows about traveling, and with that, answer the questions that many people ask him for years: 
- How is it possible to travel with almost no money? 
- Is his way of traveling safe enough? 
- What are the worst, and the best moments on the road? 
- How can you earn money while traveling? 
- Where to look for sponsors? 
- How did his parents and friends react? 
- Why is he traveling in the first place? 

Since it was impossible to give a simple and short answers to those questions, he started answering them in the only way possible - by telling his life story. 

Tomislav wrote about his student days, about the days when he had a well paid job as a stockbroker, about going bankrupt, about turning his life around, about first ventures on the road with a backpack on his back, and about finding a way that he will follow in the years to come - by traveling. 

Tomislav wrote about hitchhiking in numerous countries, sleeping in homes of strangers, camping on the side of the road, eating in supermarkets and drinking beer in parks, volunteering, many anecdotes that he encountered on the road, natural beauties that left him breathless, and about the beautiful people that he met on the way. 

Tomislav wrote about love.



4) The Storyteller - Andrea Tomić





Terrible things can happen when a storyteller falls in love.

There are thousands of stories of forbidden loves, many of them including a princess and a slave. When you live in a world of nine kingdoms and each has its own rulers and legends, the chances of not hearing a story like that are minimal.

Ever since her father, the king of the Third kingdom, passed away, princess Rachelle has been entertained by her servant Daniel. He would tell her his own stories or the ones she had already heard. None of this would be a problem if he hadn't fallen in love in with her over the years.
Now not only does he need to spend every day near his loved one knowing she could never love him back, but he has to hide every glimpse of his feelings. Because if he doesn't, he might get killed.
But when the princess starts feeling the same way, their fairy tale begins. 
However, unlike every other story he had ever told, this one might not have a happy ending. This time the Storyteller became a character and lost his possibility of creating happy endings. 



5) World Whisperer - Rachel Devenish Ford




Seven years ago, Isika’s mother walked out of the desert with three children in tow, leading the priest of the Worker village to marry her and take in her children. In all those years, fourteen-year-old Isika has never been able to fit in as a Worker or live up to her role as the priest's daughter, and worse, she has been helpless against the tragedies that have fallen on her family.

But now the four goddesses they serve want another sacrifice, and Isika's stepfather has chosen the next child to be sent out to sea: the little brother who Isika loves more than anything.

This time Isika will not be powerless.

Together, she and her two remaining siblings leave the walls of the Worker village to save their brother, traveling into unknown lands and magic they never could have imagined.



6) Confessions of a Queen B* - Crista McHugh



Alexis Wyndham is the other type of Queen B—the Queen Bitch. 

After years of being the subject of ridicule, she revels in her ability to make the in-crowd cower via the exposés on her blog, The Eastline Spy. Now that she's carved out her place in the high school hierarchy, she uses her position to help the unpopular kids walking the hallways. 

Saving a freshman from bullies? Check. 
Swapping insults with the head cheerleader? Check. 
Falling for the star quarterback? So not a part of her plan. 

But when Brett offers to help her solve the mystery of who’s posting X-rated videos from the girls’ locker room, she’ll have to swallow her pride and learn to see past the high school stereotypes she’s never questioned—until now.



7) Chasing a Croatian Grl: A Survivor's Tale - Cody McClain Brown




This is the lighthearted story of American Cody McClain Brown’s adjustments to life in Croatia. After falling in love with an enigmatic, beautiful Croatian girl (whom he knows is from Croatia but assumes that means Russia), Cody eventually woos her and the two move to Split, Croatia. There, he encounters a world of deadly drafts, endless coffees, and the forceful will of his matriarchal mother-in-law. Chasing a Croatian Girl moves past the beautiful pictures of Croatia and humorously discovers the beauty of Croatia’s people and culture.


8) Slip - David Estes




As sea levels rise and livable landmasses shrink, the Reorganized United States of America has instituted population control measures to ensure there are sufficient resources and food to sustain the growing population. Birth authorization must be paid for and obtained prior to having a child. Someone must die before another can be born, keeping the country in a population neutral position at what experts consider to be the optimal population. The new laws are enforced by a ruthless government organization known as Pop Con, responsible for terminating any children resulting from unauthorized births, and any illegals who manage to survive past their second birthday, at which point they are designated a national security threat and given the name Slip.

But what if one child slipped through the cracks? What if someone knew all the loopholes and how to exploit them? Would it change anything? Would the delicate resource balance be thrown into a tailspin, threatening the lives of everyone?

And how far would the government go to find and terminate the Slip?

In a gripping story of a family torn apart by a single choice, Slip is a reminder of the sanctity of a single life and the value of the lives we so often take for granted.



9) Luna Tree: The Baby Project - Maya Berger




Maya is kicking up her heels, living the fabulous and mostly carefree life of a twenty-something young woman. However, in the back of her mind continuous longing for a good marriage and family lingers. How do you find the right man, the one who sticks through thick and thin? Will he provide you with the things you find essential in a relationship? Maya kissed a few frogs before finding her Prince Charming, but what followed was of higher importance. She started feeling chronic pain in her lower back, the pain that wouldn't let her neither sit nor stand. Thus Maya began her relentless quest for diagnosis and healing, which she ends after discovering Energy healing. She travels the globe to receive and raise her own stored Energy, the one that changes everything. Her ultimate desires come true.



10) Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins




Can Anna find love in the City of Light?

Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she's less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.

But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he's taken —and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she's waiting for?


 11) Once and for All - Sarah Dessen



As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.


12) Everwind - Barbara Mišković



Deep in the dark and dreary Scandinavian forest there lies an ancient fortress of Stormgard. It is an orphanage for talented children who posses the priceless gift of magic. Unfortunately, after the dreadful war that nearly devastated Stormgard it became difficult for the Archmage to find new teachers for his apprentices. A beautiful, fire-haired woman from Great Britain applies for the job of an enchantress but Torval is unsure if she's really cut out for the job. Little does he know that their new enchantress has a secret. A secret so great that it could change everything!


13) Republic of Stone - Tanja Radman




After decades of dictatorship of the tyrant Rector, a resistance awakens alongside the truth withheld from the young heroes, who suddenly face tasks beyond their understanding. Learning about their magical origin, as well as the powers they gained in a rather bloody way, five young sorcerers are preparing for another war - one which might change everything, or even worse, nothing at all.

'Republic of Stone' is a historical fantasy novel situated in the medieval times of the Republic of Ragusa (today Dubrovnik, Croatia). It is the first of the Lex Legis series, which was translated into English after the Croatian paperback version sold out in two editions. Combining real historical places, events and characters with elements of Slavic mythology and pure epic fantasy, this book will take you on a journey you will never forget. If you decide to be adventurous and visit Dubrovnik, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, you will be able to carry this book around real locations you can still visit today and relive the amazing magic battles from the story, bow before the evil Rector’s statue and defiantly whisper the forbidden sentence only the members of the Lunarian secret society know, learn about the hidden magical life of one of the most famous Croatian medieval scientists – Marin Ghetaldus, and walk the streets where the young heroes of this book learned about their destiny…



14) Bridesmaids - Jane Costello




Four weddings, three disgruntled ex-boyfriends in the congregation, two wayward 'chicken-fillet' boob enhancers, and one gorgeous man, it's tough being a bridesmaid.
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review 2017-06-09 00:35
Flat characters and no logic
DC Super Hero Girls FCBD 2017 Special Edition (2017-) #1 - Shea Fontana,Monica Kubina,Yancey Labat

Why are Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy in a superhero school?  I don't know.   Some villains are still villains and some aren't.   Harley Quinn in particular seems an... odd choice.  Popular, yes, but it just seems odd to include her, especially since they defang her completely.   She's the class clown, smart, but doesn't seem to have a mean bone in her body.   Poison Ivy will do anything to protect her plants, but doesn't seem to hate humanity at all. 




And the characters all seem flat, and furthermore nothing like they really are.   This is a cute story and some of the things it teaches - like friendship and being honest is good - are told in a fun way.   I think it's a pretty good thing for younger kids, but it's just annoying that they betray the characterizations like this.   They might as well have used original characters at this point - although that wouldn't have the name recognition.   That gets more children reading this, which has good lessons for children, so it serves its purpose - and also seems like a grab for cash with all the dolls and stuff that really only teach kids about buying things.  


So, eh, conflicted, so two and a half stars. 

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review 2017-06-08 23:59
Not about Diana
Wonder Woman (2006-) #1 - Allan Heinberg,Terry Dodson

Apparently things happen, Diana has no recourse but to kill a villain, her reputation is destroyed so one of her sisters, Donna Troy, takes over as Wonder Woman.  Three of Diana's old enemies want to draw her out, so they kidnap Steve Trevor and get Donna Troy to come and try to save him, sure that she'll come for these two. 


I simply didn't care as much for Donna Troy as Diana, although it was fun to see some of the old villains.   Donna isn't a poor character, she simply isn't Wonder Woman to me.   And the writing and art were good, but again, wasn't what I wanted to read about. 


I got this for free with Fandago tickets for Wonder Woman, which I'm taking my sister to on Saturday.   Not a bad read, just not what I was expecting. 

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