Books, Recountings

recountings: batman does community service

I’m a big Batman fan – have been from the moment I peeked over my brother’s shoulder and saw Batman: The Animated Series for the first time. So a book about Batman? This should have been right up my alley. (My Crime Alley I’M SORRY, BRUCE!)

I should give you a head’s up, shouldn’t I? This post is going to go into FULL geek out mode and there’s going to be spoilers for the book. If comics and superheroes and disgruntled readers aren’t your cup of tea – perhaps you should skip this post. If they are: hello and welcome …

Batman: Nightwalker

by Marie Lu

THE PROBLEMATIC AND IMPROBABLE PREMISE

  • You are eighteen years old.
  • You’ve just come into your trust fund.
  • You are a billionaire.
  • You crash your car in order to catch a criminal, accidentally disrupting a police chase
  • You are sentenced to community service in an insane asylum that houses the criminally insane. For example serial killers and rapists and your friendly neighbourhood murderous nut-jobs
I KNEW Gotham’s justice system was broken
  • while there, you become drawn to Madeleine, a girl your age with a ‘canopy of eyelashes’ who has hair which ‘spills over her shoulders like a river of midnight’
  • who, coincidently, IS ACCUSED OF MURDERING THREE PEOPLE IN COLD BLOOD
*record screech* Yes. I know. I have many thoughts about this too.

THE LOVE INTEREST – BRUCE, OL’CHUM, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?

Listen. Batman has made some questionable decisions in the love department. (*cough* Talia Al Ghul *cough cough*) Remember that episode in B:TAS where he married that literal plant lady?* At least he had an excuse for it – Poison Ivy had pollen’d him.**

Maybe the author was trying to continue this trend. But Catwoman exists (and that book in the DC Icons series doesn’t, okay?) and I have some objections to Madeleine …

a) she is described farrrr too much: entire paragraphs are dedicated to her, her hair, her eyelashes, her eyes, her face, her personality etc etc.

… her hair spilling behind her like a dark ocean.

page 117

b) remember that scene from Sherlock – the one where he’s deduces ‘your sister has a drinking problem and you’ve got PTSD and enjoy crumpets with raspberry jam for breakfast’? Madeleine does this. But about Bruce’s emotions. Through prison glass. Based on a handful of interactions.

This leads me to conclude that Bruce must have a VERY expressive face. Which is probably why he covers it with a cowl. OHMYWORD THIS IS WHY HE BECOMES BATMAN!!

‘FO SURE

c) She tells a disguised Bruce that she knows who he is because of his gait. (Does he walk like a sideways crab? Is he from the Ministry of Silly Walks?)

I HAVE QUESTIONS!

d) She’s written as so goshdarn cool and aloof. (Bruce is impressed with her because she doesn’t look at her interrogators. She stares straight ahead. I should do the same. Maybe I’ll blink once in a while. It’ll blow his mind.)

There’s more, but it’s all far too much. Far. Too. Much. Is she a Mary-Sue? Hmmm. She isn’t quite a cardboard cut out complete with glorious hair – it’s simply that I strongly object to her. And her hair. She quotes Sherlock Holmes to a future Batman. IS NOTHING SACRED?!!

BRIEF PAUSE FOR A FOOD ANALOGY

It’s like some cookies I once made. I thought to myself – you know what I like? Cookies. You know what makes them really good? Sugar and chocolate. *lightbulb moment* If I pour A TON OF SUGAR AND CHOCOLATE INTO THE MIX IT WILL MAKE THEM THE BEST COOKIES EVER.

They looked terrible, and tasted worse.

Madeleine is the cookie. Sugar and chocolate are the coolness factors. A blue whale’s worth of weight has been poured in. It doesn’t work. You can have too much of a good thing. In fact, you can have so much of it that it needs to be binned and you need to find a new recipe.

In fact, you need to actually use one.

I didn’t, and yes, I do have regrets.

BRUCE WAYNE – BATMAN IN TRAINING

I didn’t mind the Bruce Wayne in the book too much. I could see slight influences of the Animated Series creeping in. But these were drowned out by two undeniable truths:

  1. He falls in love with Madeleine.
  2. He is too well-adjusted

Listen, Batman – for better or worse – is always unless DC actually let him BE HAPPY FOR ONCE ultimately going to be that boy sitting beside the bodies of his dead parents. Lost. Alone. Hurting.

There wasn’t much of that in the book. It tries. But it felt a little clunky. As if it didn’t quite fit. Which is odd for a book about Batman. Most of the angst is about … something else. Or rather, someone else. Bruce has nightmares ‘haunted by shadows or dark halls or a girl with long black hair‘ and he does bond with Madeleine over having dead parents.

so really it’s almost canon

But I wasn’t sold on the idea that this Bruce Wayne was going to don a cowl and fight crime dressed as a bat, full of harnessed rage and never – ever – seeking therapy.

THE REST

  • I liked Bruce’s gym. It was VR and seemed really quite awesome.
  • The technology in the story was rather spiffing.
  • Alfred was in the story. Harvey Dent was given more character development.
  • Hanging out in Gotham was quite nice
  • The writing was good. (Even for the hair. It was very picturesque. I just didn’t understand why it was featured so prominently. Was it magical – like Rapunzul’s?)

Her long black hair hung straight and shining over her shoulders, glinting blue underneath the slivers of light slicing the floors and walls.

PAGE 180

TO SUM UP …

I guess we all have an idea of how our fictional heroes should be portrayed in our heads. What I might think is authentically Batman, others might think is terrible and wrong. And vice versa. And that’s okay.

I don’t usually venture too far into the world of YA genre, so perhaps my views are already slightly skewed. Perhaps Madeleine is the way all YA heroines are written. Either way … this book wasn’t for me. I enjoyed a few parts of it, and was terribly frustrated with the rest.

goodreads // amazon

… you know what I have enjoyed though? Batman GIFS. There’s a veritable multitude!

Happy Reading!

*Batman: The Animated Series, Season 4, Episode 22 ‘Chemistry’

** YES, THIS IS A TERM I’VE JUST MADE UP. NO, I HAVE NO REGRETS.

Books, Recountings

recountings: the cover is pretty though

Some books and I get on very nicely; if they were a person, we could have tea and crumpets and bemoan the weather together quite cheerfully. I didn’t like Wintersong. There will be no tea and crumpets.

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Liesl likes to compose but her dreams in that direction are fading. But then her sister gets nabbed by the Goblin King and Liesl must save her. She does so, but runs smack into Angst! True love! (And dishes of eyeballs.)

SOME POSITIVES

  • Jae-Jones is a talented writer and can turn a phrase quite nicely.
  • The front cover is excessively pretty.
  • I liked the feel of the book. The font was a nice size and the spine was lovely and soft, but not too soft.
  • The ending, Liesl was able to take a stand as her own person. Huzzah for character growth.

LIESL NEEDS VALIDATION

Whether it be from her family, or the Goblin King himself, Liesl looks to others for validation; for her worth.

Yes, in the end, Liesl is able to walk away …

Elisabeth, entire.

… which is brilliant, but the path to her arriving at such a conclusion was fraught with looking to others to validate her worth. I thought this to be odd. For you see, it’s really best not to look to others in order to best view ourselves.

Like, no. Find your own mirror.

THE SETTING WAS NOT MINE SCENE

I didn’t like the Underground. The very idea of being stuck underground is an awful, no good thought. If there was a choice of: ‘would you like to go to the Underground Kingdom which is full of ILLUSIONS!!! And goblins and dishes that look nice but are actually eyeballs and lots of gothic weird and wonderful things OR paint a country house in the shade of eggshell from top to bottom’ I would choose the country house.

(I hate painting. And country homes are huge. And their ceilings are massive and, being no Michelangelo, I loathe painting ceilings. I’d still chose it though. Every time.)

THE ROMANTICLE ROMANCE

The Terrible Sorrow, Pain, and Heart-Wrenching Love that Surpassed All Others was ‘meh’.

I’m sorry. I didn’t get it; I did in that I understood the plot, but my emotions were never invested or in danger of sending streaming rivers from my teary ducks.

WRONGLY FILED

Look, unless YA fiction has greatly changed whilst I wasn’t looking (which is possible. I look away for long periods of time), I think this book is in the wrong category/genre. There are scenes that shouldn’t be classed as Young Adult. New Adult – yes. Mills and Boon – that too. But Young Adult? No. Nope. IS THERE NO INNOCENCE LEFT IN THIS WORLD?

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THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE CAST

… were selfish and horrible and unlikable. The sister. The brother. The parents. All of ‘em. Apart from the Goblin King. Maybe. I can’t remember – I was going to reread this book, just to make sure but after deep thought and momentary reflection, I decided … nah. Life is too short.

TO CONCLUDE

If you’ve read Wintersong and enjoyed it … than that’s wonderful. I’m pleased for you. But as for me? No. I didn’t like it. And that’s okay too. It’s good to have differences of opinion and books you don’t like. If we all liked the same thing, why, the world would be an astoundingly boring place.

In the future, if I ever feel the pressing urge to read about goblins, I shall pick up The Hollow Kingdom.

But take a character I didn’t much like, pop her in a setting that depressed me, add in a huge dollop of romance that felt more ‘meh’ than a cardboard sandwich, and we find ourselves with a book that simply wasn’t my cup of tea.

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Thank you and goodnight.

Books, Life

two lessons learned in april

I was going to do a sort of april round-up/what I did/how I’ve yet to conquer the world post (WHY IS THIS YET TO HAPPEN? Oh. Wait. I’ve got to do something for it? Pfft. Nah. Forget that) but … the best laid plans and all that sort of thing.

Instead, here are two lessons I have learned recently. The world is ever my classroom (or something like that …)

1 // pirates are not my cup of tea

I suppose it’s because there’s only so much adventure you can have when stuck on a boat in a massive stretch of ocean. (And yes, some may vehemently disagree as to the truth of this statement. But I digress.)

Whilst I loved The Lies of Locke Lamora* (I’m actually pronouncing the title correctly nowadays. Clue: it isn’t The Lies of Loch Lomand) I didn’t enjoy its sequel Red Seas Under Red Skies quite as much.

Why?

  • The heist made me feel as though Lynch was going to give me the most marvelous white chocolate cake in the history of ever … but then he didn’t. Instead, he gave me some horrendous milk chocolate sponge abomination.

(Thanks, Scott Lynch. Thanks a lot.)

  • High seas. Ship speak. Me … nope. Look, my Uncle once quizzed me about which side was port and I thought deeply and carefully about the alcoholic substance known as port and why you’d pass it around the table and whether there was a tradition about passing the glass around- I don’t do ship speak. (Port is on the left, I think. Or the right. One or the other. I can never remember.)
  • Once again, I can’t get the title right. So far, I’ve called it Red Skies Under Red Sails, Red Seas Under Red Sails, and Red Sails Under Red Skies. It’s confusing.

But those are mere quibbles. I am still enamoured with the character of Locke. Enough to risk the next novel. Maybe.

redseasunderredskieswhatISthattitle.JPG

2 // i enjoyed a ya novel

I’m shocked. SHOCKED! I tell you. However, I bought Shatter Me because I suspected it was terribly melodramatic. (I was feeling in the need of something terribly melodramatic.)

And it is.

Ohhhhh it is.

It is the most delicious, melodramatic piece of purple prose I have ever – EVER – been fortunate enough to read, and I’ve read fanfiction. (And written it but *cough* that’s beside the point.)

It’s well done purple prose. It’s creative purple prose. It’s unique purple prose. It’s beautiful purple prose. But it is the purplest prose to have ever posed as prose.

I let myself be gleeful, and I let myself read it. I didn’t take it very seriously, for I’m an old codger and can be as sympathetic as a very sympathetic brick.

shatterme.JPG

There are issues. I would like to point out to Juliette that not everything is solved, or resolved with tulips. And by tulips, I mean chew lips. (I’m sorry. That was funnier in my head.)

At one point, I looked at myself in the mirror (as all humans have fled my presence, I am left with the companionship of the mirror. It’s okay. I find it to be a very reflective companion) and said:

This is rubbish. I LOVE IT.

Shockingly enough, the mirror did not respond.

*The Lies of Locke Lamora is an adult fantasy novel about thieves. Ergo, there is quite a bit of crass language (thieves do not, as a rule, speak Queen’s English), plenty of guts and gore, and the occasional unsavoury situation. Ye have been warned.
Books, Recountings

recountings: kissing little john

I had a serious post planned for today. But then I finished reading Scarlet and thought: let’s do a recounting. So this is me, recounting my thoughts on a YA re-telling. The subject matter? One of my all time favourite heroes. Let’s plunge in …

*** spoilers abound, opinions are my own (IT IS I AND NOT THE VOICES), read at your own risk etc etc ***

scarletScarlet

by A. C. Gaughen

Will Scarlet is a girl. Now, far be it from me to disparage any creative re-telling of a well-known story. Will Scarlet being a girl with guts (metaphorical and literal ones) is an interesting and intriguing take on the tale of Robin Hood.

And yes, this is a Robin Hood re-telling. And … it was okay.

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Scarlet is the first book in a trilogy and I’m rather certain that I won’t be reading any further. Why? Because … I have a few problems with this book.

Lip Smushin’ With Little John

There is a love triangle between Little John, Rob and Scar. That doesn’t sound too awful, does it? (Love triangles are as painful as a paper cut, but they can sometimes, occasionally, very rarely be bearable)  Let me translate: that’s LITTLE JOHN, ROBIN HOOD AND MAID MARIAN.

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I know. I know. I suppose I could write many lengthy paragraphs dedicated to the sheer awful, heinousness of the very idea of Little John being a love interest of Maid Marian’s, but I shan’t. And perhaps I overreacted a little (cough) but by golly, I grew up with Robin Hood as my childhood hero and future husband. Some things just shouldn’t be done. This is one of them.

Gisbourne’s Motivating Motivation

He wishes to heap extreme unhappiness upon Scarlet’s head. Why? Because she wouldn’t marry him. What does he do? Scours the country for her in a bright red haze of a lunatic’s vengeance.

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Dude. There’s a point where you have to give it a rest, and move on. There’s more to life than a young teenager who literally fled her home to avoid you. Take a hint. Think of your mental health. And your dignity.

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Rob. Dude. Get Over Yourself

Gaughen went with a more Brooding Robin Hood. He walks about as though Atlas thought: ‘to heck with this! lemme find a mortal to plonk the world on his shoulders. OHH LOOK A BLOKE WEARING GREEN!’

It’s a personal preference of mine but I like a more light-hearted, cheerful Robin Hood. Sure, there can be sadness and Moods of The Serious Kind – and there often is – but Robin Hood is not Batman; he laughs more than once a year.

Image result for robin hood doctor who gifs

And, more importantly, Robin Hood would never say this to Marian (and I suppose, in a way, he did in this book BUT STILL!):

‘Hurting you is the best way I know to punish myself’

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I refuse to accept this as a valid reason for verbal annihilation

Your logic, my dear, is so beyond illogical that illogical logic laughs in your general direction and makes several biting remarks regarding your intelligence. In what world is that phrase acceptable? None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

I would suggest returning to the classroom and learning about a) Human Decency, b) Emotional Intelligence and c) Communicating With Humans 101.

In Short …

Scarlet wasn’t for me. It wasn’t my cup of tea or my kind of Robin Hood. It had traces of the legend I love so dearly and a heroine who had wicked ninja skills, but alas, it didn’t quite hit bullseye.

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scarlet can be found on: goodreads // amazon