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Because I'm Batman

Deadpool, Vol. 1: Dead Presidents - Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan, Tony Moore

This book was everything its back cover promised. Unfortunately, for me, that wasn't necessarily a good thing.


The "merc with a mouth" remains his usual irreverent, violent, smart-mouthed self, and I laughed at a number of his lines. However, the fun of zombie presidents and bad puns was overshadowed by a ridiculous amount of gratuitous, graphic violence. I get that Deadpool can heal from almost any injury, but that doesn't mean I want to see his guts spilling out every couple of pages.


I'm not usually too bothered by violence, but the depictions in this volume were really violent and, what's more, relentless. If you're not bothered by any of that and are looking for a non-traditional hero, you'll probably like this story. For me, unless they start showing more of the merc's mouth and less of his intestines, I'll be skipping future installments.

The Bone Season  - Samantha Shannon

Over the past few months, I've seen an unusually large number of articles about Samantha Shannon, the college-aged debut author with a seven-book deal whom some have touted as "the next J.K. Rowling." After reading it, I have to say, I think the hype was premature and unwarranted.


Shannon obviously has some interesting ideas and I've no doubt many will want to see where she takes her story. However, her characters never felt fleshed out, her plot (and plot holes) was messy at best (with more than one "too convenient" twist), and the writing/presentation structure read like a rough draft.


Overall, I think this book was okay, but it wanted the liberal use of an editor's red pen, and, quite frankly, I'm shocked by some of the rookie errors I saw: wasted narration bogging down the first chapter that was later proved redundant, an abundance of telling instead of showing, and Twilight-esqe fanfiction moments to name a few (not to mention the typos). (I'm also still a tad ticked that she took the only nice character in the whole lot and decided he was gay out of nowhere (no mention/hints before or after), seemingly for the sole purpose of keeping the main character unattached (from the guy she liked) so she'd be free to make out with the ancient alien later.)


I would hope that the author's craft improves as she continues the series, but I don't know that I care enough about her characters or world to stick around for the ride.

Supergirl Vol. 2: Girl in the World (The New 52) - Michael Green,  Mike Johnson,  Mahmud Asrar (Illustrator)

I was a little thrown by the introduction of Irish/banshee magic in what has otherwise been a very scientific read (especially when it didn't seem to go anywhere), but the chapter at the end revealing more about Kara's parents and how she came to Earth made up for it. I love the memories and scenes from Krypton and how they are slowly creating a bigger picture of several conspiracies converging. I've also enjoyed, thus far, the limited role of other superheroes/comic story lines intruding on Kara's story. She has her own stuff going on and I don't feel the need to read three or four other titles to figure out what's up. Works for me. :)

Supergirl Volume 1: The Last Daughter of Krypton TP (Supergirl (DC Comics)) - Michael Green;Mike Johnson

I haven't done much comics reading of late, but I'm glad I gave this series a chance. It's a fresh start, so no prior knowledge needed, and I enjoyed the opposite perspective of the classic Superman story; instead of an Earth boy slowly discovering his alien roots and abilities, this book presents a thoroughly alien girl who must quickly adapt to superpowers and a new planet, all while piecing together answers to the mysteries of her planet and family.


Also, who can say no to watching Superman get wailed on by a teenage girl? ;)

The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater

Curiouser and curiouser. I felt a little like Alice reading this book. It never seemed to go quite where expected and sort of meandered about. Still, it kept me curious enough to continue, despite not really caring about any of the characters.


I grew particularly tired of Adam's "loner" mentality. For a smart kid, he was exasperatingly dumb. It's not about being owned; it's about being practical and, if necessary, manipulative ... which was why his rant against Gansey after his unfortunate injury irked me, because everything he said was true. It was his own bloomin' fault. Blue was decent enough, and Noah faded to the background too much to bother, but Gansey and Ronan also came across as a tad two-dimensional.


Still, generally enjoyed the story and curious enough to check out the next book, but hoping it meanders less and doesn't dive from somewhat everyday life into a sudden, magical ending. Also hoping for more answers. :)

Personal Finance For Dummies - Eric Tyson Confession: I didn't read the whole book. I used it more like a car manual, flipping to different sections as needed. Still, the sections I did read were straightforward and informative. As someone who's never dug into money matters before, especially investing, this was invaluable.

My one complaint is that I didn't read this before nearly stepping in a few financial holes, but that's hardly the book's fault. More importantly, it confirmed and expanded on my suspicions in time to backpedal, so crises averted.

Definitely worth picking up, particularly if, like me, you're not well versed in the workings of finance, personal or otherwise. I strongly advise reading this or other similar materials before jumping into the unknown.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - April Genevieve Tucholke I don't know where to start ... in many ways this story reminded me of Twilight. Spoilers and/or desert dry sarcasm ahead.

Characters: Cardboard cutouts. Violet and her brother are down and out blueblood children of artists who have left them home alone for the summer with no money. The author often describes Violet's vintage and European tastes as well as her attraction to River. River is the mysterious, also vintage, boarder who instantly falls in love with Violet and seems to be hiding a big secret. Violet's brother, neighbor and assorted children fill the backdrop.

Romance: River is brainwashing Violet to like him and sleep next to him and to almost have sex with him. After finding out he is brainwashing her, Violet decides it wasn't the brainwashing; she really does love him. Violet's brother will make out with and/or sleep with anything wearing a skirt.

Plot: None. River is mysterious. River is a brainwasher. River is a murderer. River is a super rich brainwashing murderer. River is a super rich brainwashing murderer and stalker. Violet's still in love.

Writing: A first person perspective that uses "I" in just about every sentence and expletives as often as possible.

Conclusion: River's evil, redheaded half-brother appears out of one split second of foreshadowing and murders and attempts to murder townsfolk and sexually assault Violet. When River and his non-magic brother fail to stop his stronger brainwashing, Violet gets violent. The evil half-brother lives to murder another day, and, after a short stint in the hospital, guarded by you-know-who, Violet returns home to her happy friends and family, joined for the encore by her ditsy parents. Then, River disappears because he's too dangerous to be around her and leaves his non-magic brother behind to protect her in case the evil half-brother shows up again and goes after her to hurt River.

Final Verdict: Despite the promise of "knee-deep" romance, the premise sounded interesting, and the cover promised a slightly creepy, gothic tale. The story succeeded in making me curious, but failed in almost every other respect. The impression I got was one of an adolescent fantasy and/or fanfiction. I will most likely not be reading anything further by this author without a sterling review from a trusted friend.
For Darkness Shows the Stars - Diana Peterfreund I'd love to do a character/plot/romance/writing breakdown of this book, but I seem to have more difficulty articulating why I like a book, as opposed to why I hate it, and I did like this one. It had a few elements that irked me, but nothing that weighed heavy on my mind upon turning the last page.

Persuasion is a Jane Austen story that always slightly bugged me because the starting conflict, the premise, is that a girl let someone else talk her out of marrying the guy she loved because of status, money, etc. Weak-willed and weak reasoning tends to bug me. This retelling solved that problem. Elliot North is the behind the scenes manager of her family's estate, which her father squanders, responsible for the well being of all the Post and Reduced (limited cognitive ability) workers living on it. That responsibility comes first and drives her decisions. It made her a character I could respect and care about.

Plot-wise, I think the book stayed pretty close to the general story of Persuasion, and the pacing was good. My only complaints might be that Kai was a little too much of a jerk for a little too long - but I suppose it's true to its predecessor in that regard - and the author spent just a little too long inside Elliot's head during her moments of confusion and indecision.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and its characters. And, icing on the cake, it was in third person. Looking forward to checking out the next in this series and more from this author.
Dark Triumph - Robin LaFevers First, I should note that I have not read Grace Mercy. Neither the premise nor the prospect of spending a book in Ismae's head sounded appealing. I am happy to say that was not the case here.

Characters: Sybella is an emotionally scarred young woman, the product of a depraved family, and a daughter of St. Mortain, the god of death. Her father, Count d'Albret, plans to take all Brittany for his own, rules by fear, and matches the Queen of Hearts in arbitrary slaughter. As an assassin, Sybella is a ruthless and efficient tool. As a human being, she's insecure and confused. Her belief in St. Mortain, his devine plans, and her heritage suffers from constant doubt; but she clings to it for the purpose it gives her life as well as the absolution it offers from her otherwise incestuous relationship with her brother, Julian. In some ways, these two, Sybella and Julian, were the most complex and, thereby, most interesting characters for me. Both are struggling to survive in d'Albret's court, keeping secrets and loyalties that could get them killed while attempting to limit their exposure to and participation in d'Albret's evil. Being inside Sybella's head, seeing the many masks she wears to stay alive, and wondering where she might be had she not spent that time at the convent ... it actually made me more sympathetic to Julian, made me wonder whether I should call him sick and perverted or just confused considering his upbringing and environment, especially in light of the risks he takes protecting Sybella.

D'Albret was a decent villain, but I found the Abbess of St. Mortain's convent falling into the same category. They both had absolute belief that their actions were right and that any action taken in the pursuit of their goals was justifiable, no matter the consequences. No manipulation, murder or lie was beneath them. It didn't matter that their goals were opposite.

Beast was okay. He knew who he was, what he did and had absolute confidence in himself. Honestly, if he hadn't been dying, he would have been a little too perfect. As it was, he still felt a tad two-dimensional for as much screen time as he had, almost as though he were more a foil for Sybella's character development than a fully developed character.

Despite hearing she made for a less than ideal protagonist in Grace Mercy, Ismae made a good true friend for Sybella and was a decent secondary character overall. Duval, the duchess, and the rest of their court ... I didn't see them for long enough to make a determination.

Romance: I didn't hate Sybella and Beast but, mostly because Beast wasn't as well rounded as I hoped, I didn't love the romance aspect either and was glad it didn't feature too strongly. More than anything, the portrayals of familial, romantic, and platonic love felt like good conversation starters for in depth discussions on the nature of love - what qualifies as "true love," whether the protagonist might be deceiving herself or grasping for familiar/unconditional affection versus being in love. As an aside, I wasn't fond of the portrayal of sex with someone special as a bucket list item.

Plot: After training at the convent of St. Mortain as an assassin, Sybella is back in her (evil) father's house, spying and hoping for a sign from the gods that she can kill him. Time passes and her sign fails to appear. New orders to save a dying prisoner necessitate immediate action; but, when her plans hit a hitch, her dreams of killing daddy must move to the back burner as she carts a sick soldier cross-country, avoiding capture along the way. Sybella is always acting or reacting, so her character growth pushes the plot and the pace never suffers. Again, I couldn't help but think of a book group because the story poses so many interesting questions regarding nature v. nurture, the morality of killing, etc.

Writing: First person narrative and in present tense. Two of my least favorite writing styles, but they worked. (I'm a little shocked to have found two first person, present tense books/series I've liked in this past year.) I think the greatest help to this was that the author never allows Sybella to stop and dwell on anything in her head for too long. We know her thoughts, but they never stretch on or inhibit the plot. We keep moving forward.

On the other hand, while the pace was good, the lack of mind time resulted in a lack of explanations, especially in terms of backstory. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to know more of this from the previous book or if it was supposed to be mysterious/vague, but it prevented me from feeling strongly for or sympathizing with the protagonist in the beginning.

Conclusion: Some will die, some will live, some will find they've love to give. (rhyme moment) The "love conquers all" ending was a little meh, a little too neat and uncomplicated after all the ambiguity and confusion preceding. Also, again, book group moment: I was intrigued by a line wherein Sybella claims to have regained her "faith." Her thoughts/experience on this would make interesting discussion for faith, the definition(s) and practice(s) of. In this portion of the ending, she seemed to have regained her belief and a sense of hope or trust--but after the need for faith (i.e., sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see)was, in effect, negated. The use of redemption at the end was a nice touch, but also a little too neat.

Final Verdict: Despite not reading the first book, in general, I enjoyed this one. It had really interesting thoughts/ideas and, for me, worked fine as a standalone. I may take a look at the final book in this trilogy, but I'm a little afraid it will be a typical Superman adjusting to Earth plot. We shall see.
The Fairy-Tale Detectives  - Michael Buckley, Peter Ferguson I've been looking for a good series to dive into, something to temper the need to be in constant search of the next read. Unfortunately, I don't think this series will be the one, but not for the reasons you might think.

Characters: Sabrina is smart, determined and protective of her younger sister; she is almost as reluctant to accept the existence of magic as she is the existence of a grandmother (one her father said was dead), which leads to many chapters of stubborn rebellion. Daphne better hope she never meets a real kidnapper; she is a happy-go-lucky munchkin who is taken in by all the shinies in Gran's house and instantly accepts any and all oddities. Gran is ... like that fun, crazy aunt who has seen the world and brings you cool presents and ice cream. Canis, Puck, Jack, Charming et al are slightly over the top and clearly villains or friends from the start. I first thought the characters a little two-dimensional and juvenile ... then I remembered I was reading "juvenile fiction" and it stopped bothering me so much.

Romance: None.

Plot: After the strange disappearance of their parents and a brief, unhappy stint in the foster system, sisters Sabrina and Daphne are off to live with someone claiming to be their dead grandmother. The old woman makes oddly colored food, keeps far too many books (not possible) and believes in magic and fairy tale characters. Daphne loves it; Sabrina immediately plots escape. In the midst of investigating a mystery, Gran and Canis are kidnapped. The girls then must test their Grimm mettle to catch the crook and save their new family before it's too late.

The mystery was not overly complex, but it was enjoyable enough. Curiosity about how the author would incorporate more fairy tale characters is what really kept me turning the pages.

Conclusion: The true villain is revealed, the temporary alliance ends, Sabrina and Daphne have a new family and all is well in the land of make-believe. It's a little too neat of an ending. (There was potential for so much chaos!) Still, as an intro and setup for a series, not bad.

Final Verdict: Here's the tough part. Despite generally enjoying the book, it was still just okay for me: Sabrina's continued disbelief and harping on escape dragged down the first half of the story, and the second left a sour taste in my mouth because of all the fairy tale characters it introduced. I know I expressed curiosity about them, but the author's massive character dump at the ball showed nothing but greedy, selfish, possibly unfaithful, mean versions of characters whose stories I love. Certainly, these impressions could change down the line if the author stops and fleshes out the trapped citizens, but I don't think I'm interested enough, or enough of a gambler, to risk it. I love fairy tale retellings, but this one - not so much.

Still, recommended for younger readers who enjoy mystery and a twist on the familiar.
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman I have tried two other Gaiman books and not gotten into them. That was not the case here.

Characters: Nobody Owens is fascinating. You want to learn more about the boy who grew up in a graveyard and his world. At the same time, he's severely normal and you're watching him grow up and try to understand our world like every other kid. I enjoyed watching his journey, and he was likable. The graveyard inhabitants were mysterious, generous, difficult and pompous by turns, but I loved the moments we shared with all.

Romance: None.

Plot: Following the murder of his family, Bod is taken in and raised by a graveyard full of ghosts. It is not safe outside the yard, so we watch him grow up inside its boundaries, though it has its own dangers. By bits then bounds, the outside world breaks into Bod's life and it will take all his courage and knowledge, of the living and dead, to stay alive. Even in "normal" moments, it never feels slow or dull.

Conclusion: It's a fitting un-ending for a wonderful, original story. My complaint might be the seeming abruptness of the grand scheme/worldwide plot coming together.

Highly recommended.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll, John Tenniel I've seen multiple films based on Alice but never read the book. I finally have, and it's not bad.

The plot moves very quickly from place to place and character to character, but time seems to slow during each scene. The word play is amusing, but not brilliant (perhaps because I've seen too many film versions). I liked the book mostly because it sets the plot bunnies running. There is a reason for the multiple film/TV/book adaptations. It's chock full of interesting ideas and is short and spare enough to provide ample room for artistic license.

Definitely a good read to get the creative juices pumping.
The Reluctant Assassin - Eoin Colfer 2.5 stars

This was my first Eoin Colfer read, so I had little idea what awaited. The premise sounded interesting and, with a few rough spots, I got through it quickly.

Characters: Riley was an okay protagonist, but I never became attached to him. His presence was often overshadowed by the more volatile and louder personality of his FBI friend, Chevron Savano. Chevy had a chip on her shoulder and was anxious to prove herself a capable agent worthy of a real badge. Agent Orange wasn't around long enough to form any strong opinion. The villain, Garrick, was not especially scary or villainous. He was too over-the-top, particularly in the passages written from his perspective. He seemed too emotional.

Romance: None.

Plot: The beginning interested me. Murder, mystery, mayhem, suspense, time travel-it had all the makings of a fun sci-fi adventure. Then it hit a pacing plateau setting up the present timeline and delving into Chevy's back story. It picked up again once the time travel was in full swing, but it was never as exciting and creepy as the first scene led me to expect. The story also had a few too many moments of pulling things out of nowhere (e.g., dead inventor's girlfriend, mysterious Victorian "genius," time twisted parentage, etc.). It was almost too easy.

Writing: Third omniscient POV. The POV use was interesting, but sometimes annoying, as when it switched between too many characters in a small space of text. I think it may have been more effective had the author limited the perspective jumps by sections or chapters and stayed with only two or three characters for the book.

Conclusion: Again, the solution was a little too easy, a little too neat. The "teaser" for the next book failed to grab me.

Overall: It was a decent story, but it never struck me as horribly original or exciting. I may or may not read the next in this series. This one would probably be good for boys and girls, though we do spend a considerable amount of time in Chevy's head.
Ice - Sarah Beth Durst It's been a while since I read an "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" retelling. Based on the synopsis and other reviews, I was cautiously optimistic. I also picked this up because I loved the cover art.

Characters: Cassie is a generally likable protagonist. She's grown up at a research station on the ice and, thus, enjoyed a less than standard upbringing. Her mother is dead, her father is emotionally distant, and she dreams of one day heading her own station, tracking and studying polar bears. She is resourceful, capable and prides herself on her rational, logical mind. Which makes it fun to see Bear toss logic out the window. Bear is different, to say the least; he comes across as, if not centuries old, otherworldly, steeped in magic. The other munaqsri vary from down to earth to vaguely paying attention to downright selfish. The Trolls, the little I saw of them, were appropriately unsettling, but I think the author could have upped the horror factor with better results. I also wish I'd seen more of Cassie's "family" at the research station. They seemed like fun and interesting folk, but their snapshot appearances were too short to know much.

Romance: Cassie and her husband, Bear. It's a special relationship, to say the least (and could also be kind of creepy if you stop and think about it too hard). Despite being technically married (to a polar bear), after setting some boundaries (cue ax scene), Cassie and Bear become friends, partners, and eventually more. For the most part, the romance is slow and sweet, nothing graphic or too rushed.

Plot: Really intriguing reasoning and world building for why Bear is the way he is, why he made the deal involving the marriage in the first place, why he continues to pursue it, etc. The idea of the munaqsri was pretty cool, and its effect on the journey made sense. However, in general, the portions of the story featuring Cassie and Bear together had better speed and transitions and were more enjoyable than those wherein Cassie was alone trying to survive/escape. Though I understand its purpose in the course of the plot, I could have done without the pregnancy, and Cassie's being trapped (for nearly a year) in Father Forest's cottage was a particular low point for me, pace- and plot-wise. She does all these smart survival things, makes it to the mainland, and walks into a prison full of drugs. The lead-up to and the distraction allowing her escape also didn't work well for me. My only other complaint might be that, at times, several characters exhibited what I found to be odd reasoning and/or a strange moodiness.

Writing: Overall, I was pleased with the writing style -- limited third person Point of view, past tense, and good descriptions.

Conclusion: Here, I was a little disappointed. There turned out to be one solution to everyone's problems, and it was, not so simple, but simple enough that I wondered no one had figured it out before. More importantly, though, was the sheer drop of an ending. It ran something along the lines of, "Oh, solution! Happiness! Everything's going to be okay now. End scene/book." I understand that everything will be fine again, but I still would have liked some winding down after that climax followed by an immediate end.

Final Thoughts: Despite my displeasure with certain portions of the plot and the abrupt ending, I did enjoy this story. It was an interesting and well done take on an old fairy tale. I would probably read further fairy tale retellings from this author, though preferably without the pregnancy. ;)
The Black Cauldron (The Prydain Chronicles #2) - Lloyd Alexander I don't really have anything bad to say about this story. It was entertaining, humorous in the right spots and horribly sad in others. Taran's character develops further, this time through quite a bit of suffering and not a little humble pie. And Doli gets to be his awesome self.

I think the thing that impressed me the most about The Black Cauldron was, as at the end of The Book of Three, the characters end up much where they began with nothing but their experiences. Instead of each adventure resulting in a new collectible jewel or magic power, at the end of the day, Taran and company are still just themselves, and the reader, instead of feeling shortchanged, sees that all is as it should be.

Looking forward to the next in the series.
The Red Pyramid - Rick Riordan I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying this book after my "meh" experience with Percy Jackson. The characters were better fleshed out, the incorporation of the gods' appearances seemed more purposeful, and there was only one harped issue (race) instead of two.

Characters: Carter is a logical, somewhat introverted boy who does what needs to be done and what makes sense. He's that slightly awkward, bookish underdog you want to root for. I had no major problems with him. I believe he will be the Batman of these siblings, slowly growing stronger and wiser until he is capable of fulfilling his destiny. Sadie was less of a favorite, partly because she's a little over the top and self-involved, but more because the author used the Superman complex on her. She's beautiful, she's smart, she's witty, she's descended from pharaohs, she has her mom's rare divination power, she's one of the few people to ever control Isis, she's extra talented as a magician, she passes notes for the sky and earth gods, she has Anubis crushing on her, and she's just so doggone great that she doesn't need and/or want the throne; she'll put her wimpy brother on it instead. Not exactly the character's fault, but the author delved a bit too far into Mary Sue land for me to like her. Zia seemed interesting, but I'd like to know more. Bast was acceptable. Sekhmet and Thoth were fun. Isis, Horus and Set were all a little too uptight.

Plot: Carter and Sadie Kane are two siblings with one big problem: their dad is a magician and has released an Egyptian god of chaos into our world. If they don't stop him in time, while avoiding the other magicians out for their heads, things go boom. Events progressed logically from point to point, and there was enough humor and/or acknowledgment of strangeness to prevent the story becoming too dark and heavy.

Writing: I didn't mind the chapters in Carter's POV; they were informative, entertaining, and smoothly carried the narrative. Sadie's chapters had much more personality, often in the form of chunks of commentary. The quantity of commenting varied, but in almost every instance, it disrupted the narrative for me. Interestingly, toward the middle of the book, Sadie's and Carter's chapters took on such a similar quality that I had to check in whose POV I was after reading "I said" something or other. I understand certain parts of the story were Sadie's alone, but I would rather have read third person with alternating perspectives or first person in just Carter's POV.

Conclusion: The conclusion in which the good guys "win" was acceptable. The conclusion of the book (i.e., the last chapter or so), not so much. I realize it had to tie up how and when they had the time to record this whole story, but the explanation fell flat for me, mostly because it tied directly to a segue into the next book that I found ridiculous and sub-par.

Final Thoughts: Despite my general enjoyment of the book, the ending promised a second installment that sounded tedious and a bit arid to me. I may continue the series in the future, but, for now, I'm leaning toward no.