Monday, August 3, 2015

Captain America: Winter Soldier


Published:  April 14th, 2010
Captain America: Winter Soldier (Winter Soldier #1-2)
By: Ed Brubaker (Writer) & Steve Epting (Artist)
Marvel Comics
ISBN-13:  9780785143413

A midnight call to duty brings Captain America aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D Heli-carrier to identify the corpse of his most feared adversary: the Red Skull!  The shocking murder of Cap's oldest enemy may not be the end of the Skull's plans, however, because whoever shot the Skull has stolen his final project: an unfinished Cosmic Cube with the potential power to alter reality itself.  Adding to the imminent danger, a cadre of the Skull's followers has already set in motion a plan to ignite bombs in the heart of Paris, London and Manhattan -- causing untold destruction.  Racing against these bombs' rapidly ticking clocks, the Star-Spangled Avenger must not only solve the mystery of his nemesis' murder, but find the Cube before it can be used in the Red Skull's malevolent plot against the United States!  Then, the questions plaguing Captain America's dreams and memories have been answered in the most brutal way possible.  And in the wake of this brutality, General Lukin makes his first move...

Review

     More like 3.5 stars. To be honest, the stuff with the cosmic cube was very "meh" to me personally. The "death" of the Red Skull was interesting though and I feel like if I had more background on it, I'd be more invested in what happened. That ending was creepy as Hell though! I do think I liked the way the movie was structured a lot better than this comic -- too much talk and not enough action! (Oh my God, I'm turning into my Dad...)


     But, I really truly enjoyed the idea that Bucky was not a recipient of the super-soldier serum, but was a trained tactician/sniper/wetworks operative -- even when he was Steve's teenage partner!!! And that backstory that was in the "Winter Soldier" file left on Steve's doorstep...oh my god, the feels. It broke MY FEELS.


     However, I felt like this was not the place to start if I actually wanted to like Steve Rogers/Cap as a person. To be completely honest, he was kind of a dick...to everyone he spoke to for the ENTIRE comic. He's built like a mack-truck and spends most of his time breaking shit in blind rages, yelling at people, refusing to listen to anyone elses' opinions and looking downright scary! Not a guy I'd approach on the street for directions. More like someone I'd expect to go to rehab for one too many roid-rage incidents.


***POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT***

     Don't know all the history between him and Sharon Carter, aka Agent 13, but obviously there was some mega-tension and clashing of ideals going on between the two of them. Also was very put off by her basically just wanting to shoot Bucky and get rid of him, regardless of the fact that he was a brainwashed hired-gun and none of it was really his fault -- all because his Philadelphia strike kills her ex-boyfriend. BOO-FUCKING-HOO Sharon, boo-fucking-hoo! To her it doesn't matter if Bucky's still in there or not, which didn't endear her to me AT ALL. 


     Final verdict, I liked the movie better because it's more approachable for someone that's a noob like me. That said, I definitely want to read more Cap comics and will be continuing this series. Now excuse me while I celebrate Friday with a virtual drink or two...

You're A Virgin, Who Can't Drive!


Published: July 7th, 2015
As If!: The Oral History of Clueless as told by Amy Heckerling and the Cast and Crew
By: Jen Chaney
Touchstone
ISBN-13:  9781476799087

Acclaimed pop culture journalist Jen Chaney shares an oral history of the cult classic film Clueless in the ultimate written resources about one of the most influential, revered, and enduring movies of the 1990s -- in celebration of its twentieth anniversary.

Will we ever get tire of watching Cher navigate Beverly Hills high school and discover true love in Clueless?  As if!  Written by Amy Heckerling and starring Alicia Silverstone, Clueless is an enduring comedy classic that remains one of the most streamed movies on Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes even twenty years after its release.  Inspired by Jane Austen's Emma, Clueless is an everlasting pop culture staple.

In the first book of its kind, Jen Chaney has compiled an oral history of the making of this iconic film using recollections and insights from key cast and crew members involved in the making of this endlessly quotable, ahead-of-its-time production.  Get a behind-the-scenes look at how Emma influenced Heckerling to write the script, how the stars were cast in each of their roles, what was involved in creating the costumes, sets, and soundtrack, and much more.

Review



I really enjoyed this one! I'm grading up a tad bit due to nostalgia factor -- plus I'm looking forward to looking at the production/publicity pictures I'm sure will be included in the finalized copy. If you're a fan of Clueless, but don't know everything about it already, you will find this to be a fun book. It's mostly transcription of interviews, etc. with the cast and crew of the film that are still alive (the notable exception being the late Brittany Murphy, aka Tai) and there are some great stories from filming. Like the story behind the real Mr. Hall and the last-minute casting of the mugger who holds up Cher at the gas station.



I especially loved the stories from Amy Heckerling, Twink Caplan (associate producer and "Ms. Geist"), Paul Rudd, and Donald Faison.  It follows from the pre-production and planning of Clueless, all the way to the cultural zeitgeist existing today.  We get insights into the costumes, acting, directing, the soundtrack (with interviews from a few of the artists), and just about everything else involved in making a movie that you could possibly think of!  Obviously there are some things that slightly contradict each other -- no one's memory is perfect after 20 years.  But it's funny seeing them argue with each other over certain things and to get opposing viewpoints is wonderful.  I'd recommend it if you're a fan of Clueless at all, you'll be surprised at how much you learn and the fun you have doing it!  Thank you to NetGalley for this eArc to read and enjoy! :D


VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars

*I received this book from Touchstone, on NetGalley.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was originally published on July 7th, 2015.*

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

All the Appeal of an Ambulance Siren


Published:  October 28th, 2014
Gotham City Sirens: Book One
By: Paul Dini, Guillem March (Illustrations)
DC Comics
ISBN-13:  9781401251758

This graphic novel features the bad girls of Gotham City!  Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are tired of playing by other peoples' rules regardless of which side of the law they're on.  These tough ladies have a new agenda that's all their own, and they'll use any means necessary to pursue it.  But can they get along and work as a team?  And who will get hurt along the way?

Contains issues 1-13.


Review (HERE THERE BE SPOILERS, YAR!) 

I was enjoying myself pretty good for the whole volume, until that last issue. I was annoyed by the constant referencing of Hush which I've never read. But it wasn't so tied into the story that I couldn't figure out what was going on and it didn't really diminish my enjoyment -- so I was letting it slide. I also really liked the portrayal of Harley as a somewhat coherent adult, albeit one with major issues and tendency towards childish behavior. The holiday issue with Harley's family definitely gives some background on how she could've turned out so messed up. So, things were chugging along decently. Than in that last issue things got really BIZZARE! 



Selina's homeless sister Maggie, a former nun (who has been locked up in the mental hospital after going bonkers -- I'm assuming she escaped!), goes to see another nun -- a renowned exorcist. Turns out, she thinks Selina is being possessed by a cat demon of some sort and Maggie thinks she has to "free" her...then the nun's cat comes into the room and Maggie kills it and the nun, cause she's been "compromised." WTF???!!! Maggie then goes through her relics and gets possessed by an "angel" (probably not a real angel - they never are...), who wants her to kill Selina. Who she then doesn't kill, because when Selina ripped off a holy relic from Maggie's church when she was a nun, turns out she felt GUILTY and took it back. So there's "hope" of saving her...y'know, from the cat demon!!! 





I kind of want to know what happens to Ivy, who was on the verge of murdering a co-worker at S.T.A.R. Labs that learned her identity and was trying to kill her, but don't know if it's worth my effort now. Just, wow. What the actual fuck???



VERDICT:  2.5/5 Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mismatched Lovers


Published:  February 1st, 1979
Harold and Maude
By: Colin Higgins
Avon Books
ISBN-13:  9780380003853

Nineteen-year-old Harold Chasen is obsessed with death.  He fakes suicides to shock his self-obsessed mother, drives a customized Jaguar hearse, and attends funerals of complete strangers.  Seventy-nine-year-old Maude Chardin, on the other hand, adores life.  She liberates trees from city sidewalks and transplants them to the forest, paints smiles on the faces of church statues, and "borrows" cars to remind their owners life is fleeting -- here today, gone tomorrow!  A chance meeting between the two turns into a madcap, whirlwind romance, and Harold learns that life is worth living.

Review

       Ugh.  I know this is a classic, and I have a couple friends that absolutely loved it.  Maybe it also doesn't help my opinion that I've never seen the movie?  Not sure, but for some reason I'm not at all a fan of this one.  It was okay, but overall un-inspiring for me personally.


       I found it to be kind of similar to Love Story, in the fact that you can totally tell it was written to be a screenplay.  It was never written to just be a book and for me personally, that hurt my enjoyment of it.  There was no real flesh to the characters and barely any plot happening.  And that freaking ending...


       Since when is that the freaking answer?  Maybe if I had seen the movie, or read this as a teenager, I'd have had more tolerance for the whole "suicide-star-crossed-age-gap-lovers" thing.  But get this: I just didn't.  She could have just told him, "Hey yo, I'm way too freaking old for you.  Find a nice girl your own age and P.S. I'm going off on further adventures."  Instead she committs suicide and Harold learns a nice, neat lesson?  FUCKING GAG ME.


VERDICT:  2/5  Stars

*I received this book from Avon Books on NetGalley.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was originally published on February 1st, 1979.*

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Crazy On You


Published:  March 3rd, 2015
Rocket Raccoon, Vol. 1: A Chasing Tale
By: Skottie Young
Marvel
ISBN-13:  9780785193890

Rocket Raccoon has been a hero to the weak, a champion of good, a heartthrob to many intergalactic females, but his high-flying life of adventure may be a thing of the past when he's framed for murder -- and the authorities aren't the only one on his tail!  (Get it?  Tail?)  The real killer is an imposter who seems to be one step ahead of Rocket at every turn...now it's up to our hero and his best pal Groot to find the truth!  With Macho Gomez and the Ex-Terminators tracking him, can Rocket make it out alive and clear his name?

Review

       If there's any comic that I can get behing whimsical, unrealistic-in-every-way artwork, it would be a comic starring Rocket Raccoon and his ever present buddy, Groot.  So this time, it wasn't the art that got on my nerves.  In fact there really wasn't much of anything that got on my nerves, so to speak.  It was yet another case of the "mehs" for me with this book.  I really enjoyed the first few issues, but I felt like it ran out of steam and I must be the only one who read this that DIDN'T enjoy the issue that was all "I Am Groot"s and pretty artwork.  This whole book starts with Rocket on a quest to find the surviving member(s) of his race, that he found out about recently.  Oh, and to clear his name of murder.  Not that he hasn't committed murder before, but this rap sheet doesn't actually belong to him.  So, it has to be another from his race, right?  Then there's also the matter of all the ex-girlfriends that are trying to kill Rocket, for overall being a womanizing douchebag!



       As soon as the story arc from the first three issues was tidied up, I felt like the last half of the "story" was just filler.  And I think that's half of my problem with reading Marvel comics over DC.  No matter which publisher, there's a 50/50 shot as to whether or not it's going to be any good, no matter what.  But when you look at the pros and cons, I usually choose DC over Marvel.  It tends to be because Marvels trade volumes are about 20-30 pages shorter (2 issues, give or take).  Also, the story arcs, at least from the trades that I've read, seem to be more pointless/used to less effect.  About half the volume is filler, unlike DC where even if it's shitty, all of it's pertinent.  I guess what I've been learning from reading Marvel, and what I learned from reading Rocket Raccoon in particular, is that I'm old and a fun-sucker.  Which, y'know, doesn't make me Marvel's ideal audience.  In other words, I'm the perfect DC fan (to my DC-fan friends, just admit it to yourself).


VERDICT:  3/5 Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Life of Her Own, With a View


Published:  January 27th, 2015
Love, Lucy
By: April Lindner
Poppy
ISBN-13:  9780316400695

While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician.  After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation."  But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse have to be, does it?

Review

       I'll go right out there and say that I don't think this book is for everyone and it definitely could have been better.  The original source material for this retelling is A Room With a View by E.M. Forster.  It is a comedy of social errors and the class divide, somewhat reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel, but not quite.  This is less about following the rules of society and finding love with someone who might be slightly inappropriate, in terms of class.  But in say, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth at least has some social graces and knows how to act in society.  Also, she's not THAT far beneath Darcy, no matter what his pride says.  She's a gentleman's daughter.  Lucy Honeychurch in the original Room, falls in love with a young man named George who has no social connections, isn't rich and can't offer her anything other than his love.  She has to choose between socially unacceptable happiness and marrying a man named Cecil (for whom she feels nothing), who could give her every comfort she's used to and more - plus she'd still be accepted in society with her family/friends if she married Cecil.
       When you're adapting a story like that for a modern-day audience, set in the modern United States, it's difficult to translate quite what Lucy would have been giving up by marrying outside her social circle, in a downwards direction.  So Lindner tries to resolve this by making Lucy an actress, who is going to the college her father wants, majoring in business and never acting again, all so he'll pay for college.  That alone is somewhat far-fetched, due to the type of family she lives in and the time period.  It's an upper-middle class, caucasian family, with no obvious religious affiliations and no real obvious reason for this strict point of view.  Also, he forbids her to even continue acting as a hobby.  Alrighty then...and she's supposed to take a trip to Europe in exchange for forgetting her dreams?  On the trip, which she takes with Charlene (the daughter of her Mom's friend), she meets Jesse in Italy and he forces her to question how easily she's giving in to her parents about her future.  I did like the little love-hate thing they had going on at first, but once she's into him she ditches Charlene and is downright mean to her, which I wasn't super fond of.  Being a bitch to your traveling companion is just wrong, even if it's supposedly true love at stake.
       Probably the stupidest thing about this for me, was Lucy's romantic life once she gets to college.  While growing a backbone about being in plays/acting, she seems to lose all sense of self in regards to dating.  Thinking that it's over between her and Jesse, Lucy starts dating someone who seems like the absolute perfect guy.  Yet, she doesn't really have feelings for him.  But he's the perfect guy, so she should just stay with him anyway, right?  Then Jesse comes back to town, to be with Lucy, so she sleeps with him and goes on a date with the other guy the next day anyways, a "weekend away" on which he thinks they're going to have sex (I'm pretty sure it was the next day, I could be mistaken, as it's been a little while since I read this one).  It's like she just wants to miserable.  I think this novel should have been adapted in a different country/culture/place with other social expectations.  Or at least there should have been better reasoning behind Lucy's actions and lack of self-worth.  It made for an unlikeable protagonist which is never fortunate, unless it's on purpose.  Sadly, I don't think it was on purpose in this instance.  Overall, I give this one three stars because I could see the original glimmering underneath.  I also know what it's like to give up the direction of your life to the needs/wants of others.  But there was a lot of wasted potential in this one.  Maybe as a fluffy beach read, if you decide to pick it up?

VERDICT:  3/5  Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

Friday, March 13, 2015

Bite Sized Review: Lois Lane - A Real Work of Art


Published:  March 4th, 2015
Lois Lane: A Real Work of Art
By: Gwenda Bond
Capstone
ISBN-13:  9780000000

In high school art class, Lois Lane demonstrates her undeniable talent.....but not for painting.

This is an official teaser short story for the young adult novel LOIS LANE: FALLOUT that takes place before Lois moves to Metropolis.

Review

       I normally don't care too much for short stories, especially ones that are under 50 pages long.  I know that a lot can be conveyed in them if the right writer is guiding the ship -- but more often than not, these short stories and novellas for popular YA book series are just useless filler.  This was available on NetGalley, so I requested it and hoped for the best.  And I got it!  Lois Lane is exactly how I wanted her to be - sassy, smart, and self-aware.  Of course, she's a teenager, so there is some self-doubt.  Lois is constantly moving around as an army brat, and she's in a new town again.  All she wants is to figure out something that she's good at, something that can be just for her.  So, Lois decides to try out an art class, and manages to get into more trouble than you'd think possible.  If you're a fan of Lois Lane (especially as portrayed by Erica Durance on Smallville, who this Lois really reminded me of!), try reading this.  I am now super pumped up for the full-length book coming out in May.  I enjoyed Gwenda Bond's style and I will LOVE reading more of Lois' misadventures!  Highly recommended.



VERDICT: 4/5 Stars

*I received this book from Capstone, on NetGalley. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. This book was published on March 4th, 2015.*