Batgirl (Volume 1: The Batgirl of Burnside)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Batgirl (Volume 1: The Batgirl of Burnside)
Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, 2015

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley for the purpose of review.

Premise: Babs moves to a new neighborhood for a fresh start, a new look, and a new outlook.

Reviewing this book is really hard. I think I'm too old for it. (For what it's worth, I am 33.)

I like the art; I like the humor. In principle I like the lighter take and I liked aspects of the story. But for me, it's not my Batgirl, without quite being a brand new Batgirl.

In this volume, they did a soft reboot. The character gets a new outfit, new friends, a new neighborhood to protect, and the protagonist has been called (both affectionately and not) "hipster Batgirl". She does live in a Brooklyn analogue, and is making dumb mistakes the way young people in their early twenties do ... although it bothers me a little that at the same time she's struggling with, not college, but her dissertation. That's just one of the little story mis-matches that gave me pause.

I really enjoy the current Ms. Marvel, whose success clearly paved the way for more lighter, woman-centric fare. And I liked quite a bit of this. The tone is fun, the art is snappy: it has a striking, singular style, without losing clarity. The facial expressions are often great. The visualization of her eidetic memory was very cool.

The writing between Babs and Dinah, or with her other friends, feels pretty good. The love interest(s) I found forced and awkward. The moral is... something about protecting people? I'll admit, at the end there I was far more interested in the pathos of (spoiler) her unhinged AI clone, and was sad when that story wrapped up in such a simplistic manner.

Maybe I would enjoy the next arc more. This one feels like a transition to me. If there had been absolutely nothing connecting it to anything that has gone before, I might have been able to just go with it as a full reboot. But as it was, there are just enough callbacks that remind me of my Barbara: adult, capable, meditative, goddamn majestic at times. And then cute early-twenties-but-acts-like-a-teen Babs is just...cute. Capable enough at times, but not the same at all.

Erin had a really good point about this version of the character: she's Batgirl from the animated show The Batman. If you missed that one (it aired from 2004-2008), it started super rough, but grew into a perfectly good show. This is a great comic version of that character.

This is hard for me, because the book is getting a lot of love, and I'm really happy that lighter comics and comics targeted at girls are being released and gaining traction. This one just isn't for me.

2 Stars - An Okay Book (But, add a star if “The Batman” is the animated superhero series of your childhood, and maybe add another if you’ve never read a comic with Oracle in it.)

The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies: Book 1)

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies: Book 1)
KJ Charles, 2013

Premise: Lucien Varney has returned from abroad to take up the unwanted mantle of Lord Crane after the mysterious deaths of his father and older brother. But someone doesn't want any of his line left alive, and to fight magic he'll need some unconventional help from a young magician...

If you've been here long, you probably know that I'm ambivalent towards romance, as a genre. But sometimes... Sometimes romance is just perfect. Particularly when there is magic. And.. I’ll be upfront with you... pretty boys.

This book was delightful. It has no pretentions of great “literature”, and it flirts with unreality as most romance does. It was a joy to read, and I've already bought the sequel.

This book handily manages what I consider to be a core element of the best romances: give me two interesting characters who are even more interesting together. Lucien and Stephen both have interesting backstories, interesting lives, and great chemistry.

Lucien, as the black-sheep/vagabond returning to England after a long time abroad, is light-hearted on the surface, despite the fact that it's his life and fortune at stake. Stephen, while mostly professional and quiet, struggles both with a dark history with the Crane family and the burden of his talent.

The adventure/mystery plot is playfully interwoven with the romance. I devoured this book in less than 24 hours, I was sucked into this story to a depth I haven’t experienced in a while.

It was start-to-end fun and incredibly charming. I didn’t know I needed more LGBT fantasy romance in my life, but I’m glad this is the one I stumbled into.

4 Stars - A Great Book

Update and Promotion :)

Monday, June 15, 2015

From Turtleback Mountain, Orcas Island, WA, 6/13/15

Hi all,

You may have noticed that my posting here has been more and more sporadic. I still like writing and sharing book reviews, but I've been extremely busy and haven't been able to finish any posts lately.

Part of being busy has been, ironically, related to finally getting a few days off! We just got back from a great camping trip. Lots of hiking and watching wildlife - I'm exhausted, but feel more together than I have in a while.

And part of the aforementioned busyness is related to this bit of awesome:

Shiny-new, and available later this week! As is now standard for Erin's books, I did a lot of the final editing and all the formatting, so you can blame me for any last lingering typos.

Pre-order for Kindle!

Paperback should be available this week as well.

I love the world that Erin's building, and I think you're going to like meeting Alaji. She's stubborn, sharp and fiercely loyal, and determined to take whatever the world offers. She's willing to go against her people's beliefs in order to try to save them, and that's only how the story starts.

I've already read the first draft of Book Two, so I can tell you that you want to jump on board now: there's so much great stuff ahead!

Did I mention there's a pre-order?