Category Archives: Superheroes, Heroism, and Romance

Batman vs. Iron Man, he who dies with the best toys…

Those of you who own blogs or websites, are you getting a lot of requests to post info-graphics? Now that’s a topic all by itself, as some of these people can be kinda pushy. I even had someone write me recently–whom I assume was either in the use my info-graphic business, or was in the let me post my freelance stuff that has nothing to do with you business– to ask if I was the person in charge of the website, but she DID NOT STATE HER BUSINESS or why she wanted to know. So I ignored her. You know, in hopes that she would go away. Nope, she followed up and wrote me again, asking me the same question, and, again, not giving me any idea to whom I would be responding or what I might be getting into if I clicked reply. Not cool.

And most of these requests are from people who don’t really get me, who I am, what my site is for, or what I might want to bug my readers with.

BUT, I got a very nice email today from a content director pimping an info-graphic that’s clever, amusing, and is relevant to stuff we really care about around here:

Whose toys cost more, and who’s getting more for their crime-fighting buck, Batman or Iron-Man?

And, if you clicky, you can go get a quote on homeowner’s insurance for your own modest superhero HQ, but I hereby disclaim any knowledge or affiliation thereto and you are on your own.

The Billion Dollar Hero

Created by HomeownersInsurance.com

(Sorry if this is cut off in your view. Check out the original here.)

Let me just say that Alfred is steal, especially compared to Jarvis who, while admittedly probably better at the math stuff, can’t possibly compete as a caretaker. Also, I fantasize that Alfred makes kickass scones. Mmmm…scones….

Speaking of Marvel vs. DC, remember the Hi, I’m a Marvel…and I’m a DC videos on Youtube? So much fun. Dammit, I’m going to have to spend the rest of the day watching them. You should too.

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Listening to Angry Girl Rock, Cutting Up His Picture

Before I even get started, you should know the following:

Dragon Age Origins Ultimate Edition for download at Amazon

  • This post may be spoilery regarding Dragon Age Origins
  • Parts of this post may not make a huge amount of sense if you don’t play DAO
  • I’m pretty pissed off and will be following this up with ice cream

I haven’t played DAO for a while, but I’m moving into this hugely busy time that flows right into the holiday season that flows right into the school is closed for snow every time I turn around season. So it just seemed like I needed to be proactive in dealing with stress and that it was time to see what was going on in Ferelden.

My DAO Character, Elissa

I hadn’t played Dragon Age for a while, because when I play it, it’s all I do. But it was lovely to be back, despite all the blood splatter. And when the plot brought in things that had happened before, I really remembered the parts I had played before in character, like they were my memories. Which they are, but…you know?

Well, anyway, I started to feel kind of snippy at one point because I’m just like, look, why do I have to do every damned thing around this world? Seriously, I’m just recruited to fight these Darkspawn things, and then next thing I know, Alistair and I are the only Wardens left. And even though he’s been in it longer and knows more stuff, he’s totally willing to let me take over and make all the decisions. Damn.But that’s okay, because at least he appreciates me and he’s charming and amusing.

Image from Dragon Age Wiki

Image from Wikipedia

I know the writers say they drew on Xander for this character, but I never though of him as a Xander–because of my virulent dislike for

Image from FireflyWiki

Xander. I think of him as much more Wash-like and try to look out for him and make sure he doesn’t get impaled on anything.

Anyway, yeah, every time I turn around, someone wants me to handle some other bit of business that is no killing Darkspawn. Dude, seriously? I’m everyone’s damned counselor, messenger, delivery girl, mediator, rent-a-cop, and I don’t know what all else. Basically, I’m the mom. I’m just supposed to do everything. Need the elves to help fight the Darkspawn? Fine, just solve their centuries old werewolf problem. Need the help of the Dwarves? Okay, just settle their political mess, get their next king crowned, and if that involves mucking around in creature infested caverns even the Dwarves themselves won’t touch, well, you’re the Warden, get to it. What the hell?

Okay, so I was glad it was getting to be time for the Landsmeet and I could finally call in some of these ridiculous favors I’ve been doing for the humans. Meanwhile Alistair’s still whining that he doesn’t want to be king. Well look, sweetie, if I were the royal bastard, I’d take the crown myself. But I don’t. And you know you don’t want to leave things in the hands of the guy who let all the other Wardens, your mentor, and the previous king get slaughtered, so man up. Anyway, I’ve got this totally under control. I may not be royal, but I was still born noble, so I figure Alistair and I can hook up and I can just going on running things, just like I’ve been running every damned thing since my family was killed and I got recruited into this crazy story.

And I know this is a game possibility, so it’s cool. Well, we get to the Landsmeet and things do NOT go as expected. Apparently I didn’t do ENOUGH favors. Really? Are you kidding me? Bloodshed ensues until the head mage chick puts a stop to it. Now you’d think at that point she could throw some support behind the Wardens. After all, we did spend a significant amount of time and energy saving her tower and her entire order from demons. But no. Next thing I know there’s going to be a duel for the crown.

Well, I tried to let Alistair fight his own battles, but it only took a few embarrassing defeats and reloads to realize that he wasn’t going to get it done. So fine, I’ll be his champion. I’m not going to fault him for this or cast aspersions on his manhood. Loghain is a seasoned general and kinda bad-ass, and maybe it just takes a little roguishness to get this done.

So after I brought him to his knees and he yielded the crown to Alistair, then Alistair wants to be a complete butthead in front of the entire assembly and not allow me show Loghain mercy and not allow a reasonable request that he be allowed to become a Warden. Because Alistair’s all “becoming a Warden isn’t a punishment, it’s an honor, and I won’t have it!” Oh, nice. Make him king and all of the sudden he wants to be all kingly.

So fine, I let Alistair have his way. I mean, isn’t the whole relationship about me doing what Alistair wants anyway? Except for these very few times when I just don’t have any other choice like in making him king.

So then, THEN, he comes to me right after that and HE FREAKING BREAKS UP WITH ME!!! Citing his need for a legitimate heir. And I’m apparently too tainted by the Darkspawn blood we had drink at our induction to the Grey Wardens to make a suitable heir bearer or some shit.

OMG, you guys, I was beyond pissed. He gave me that, “I have to make a clean break of it now because I love you and I won’t be able to do it later.” Grrrrrr…. And for once, I actually let him have it. Because really, why not? He was just done, just like that. And there was no talking to him. And then he has the nerve to walk off with “Alistair Disapproves -10.” He’s so lucky the game doesn’t let me have real free will so I could follow him and kick his ass (because you know I could) and give him -10 teeth.

After all I have done for this guy! I mean, seriously! Do you have any idea how much I have TRIED in this relationship? Do you have any idea how I have tip-toed around his delicate, virginal, Templar sensibilities? Maybe I was just crazy to think a Templar and a Rogue could ever make a thing work. Are we just another victim of superhero romance?

Yeah, so, obviously I’m still simmering over that. And when I get done simmering I’m going to go back, start over, fix what I did wrong, and make it come out so that he accepts the crown and me as queen, dammit. Because I lurv the idiot and this game is awesome.

Speaking guys I love and awesome things, just wanted to mention that today my husband and I have been married for 20 years. Here I am with my bridesmaids.

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The Crow: Feel free to explain the appeal

The Crow has long been on my “Find out what the fuss is about” list. So the other night, when I was flipping through Netflix, it seemed like it was finally time.

Netflix description:

Exactly one year after young rock guitarist Eric Draven (Brandon Lee, son of martial arts icon Bruce Lee) and his fiancée are brutally killed by a ruthless gang of criminals, Draven — watched over by a hypnotic crow — returns from the grave to exact revenge. Based on a graphic novel of the same name, this Gothic action thriller features Lee’s last performance before his untimely death. Ernie Hudson and Ling Bai co-star.

Yep, that seems to be all there was to it. I mean, like, literally. Was this movie better in ’94? A guy and his fiancee are killed horribly by a group of horrible people in the style of Mad Max and any other movie with senseless people perpetrating senseless violence. After the guy, Eric, comes back from the grave, he starts killing the people who took part. Eric’s already dead, so he can’t be killed again. He gets shot or stabbed, he just heals right back up. And he either doesn’t feel pain or doesn’t care about it. So…there doesn’t seem to be any risk for the protagonist.

And he doesn’t have any problem tracking down the people he’s after. It’s just scene after scene of him killing people without obstacle. I don’t object to that, they had it coming. But what was the point of me sitting through it?

If there was character arc for any of the characters in the movie, I totally missed it. There seemed to be some kind of thread in which a slightly deeper motivation for the original attack was revealed, but…it didn’t actually matter in anything.

There’s a cop who has a big role, but I’m not sure what it is. He doesn’t seem necessary except to be someone who could anchor the story as a narrator. He does have a part to play in storing something that helps Eric defeat the ultimate bad dude, but he doesn’t really learn anything meaningful either and his storyline is mostly one you could cut and not change what happens much–because nothing happens but killing.

And I still can’t figure out how that took 100 minutes.

There were ideas that I liked in it; I liked the settings and costuming. The soundtrack. But it wasn’t enough to support a movie that really didn’t have much of a story.

So…did the awesome of The Crow just fly right over my head?

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Mars- My Most Favoritest Manga

Mars #1 Cover ImageIf I’ve never talked about Fuyumi Soryo’s MARS series before, that’s kind of tragic. And I don’t think I have. And if I have, it’s certainly worth talking about again. So there.

No killer robots. No magic. No enchanted weaponry. No super science. No ancient prophesied destiny.

The only supernatural here, the only destiny, is true love. Because Mars is pure high school romantic drama. And lots of it.

Not that I have anything against killer robots, etc. It’s just, as you know, I LOVE me some teen melodrama.

This 15 volume series begins when Rei interrupts Kira as she’s sketching in a park to ask directions to the Medical Center. Without saying a word, she draws him a map, thrusts it at him, and walks away. Back at her house, clearly annoyed, she reveals to her mother that she’s just had a run in with someone she doesn’t like, who is so oblivious to her that he probably doesn’t even realize they go to the same school. And any way, he’s a bad boy who smokes behind the teachers’ backs “and that kind of stuff.” (Oh yeah, the bad-boy stuff.)

Rei goes on to visit his friend who has lost his leg in a motorcycle accident, and reveals a little more about himself, his capacity to care about his friends, his own penchant for danger, his casual belief that no one really cares what happens to him. While there, he also discovers a drawing on the back of his map and is intrigued by it.

In school the next day, he recognizes Kira as the artist from the park. She doesn’t seem to want anything to do with him, but he’s not the sort to let that deter him, once he’s intrigued. His genuine admiration of her artwork surprises her, makes her pause long enough to give him a chance to start charming her, and to rescue her from a bad situation at school. The drama escalates when Rei’s attention to Kira gets her on the bad side of a violent classmate who is desperate for Rei to notice her.

I don’t think you can talk merely about what happens in the story and convey what it’s like to read it. It’s very character driven, and much of the emotion in the story is carried by the art and the characters’ thoughts. Even from this first volume, the relationship between them is heartrendingly sweet. As the series unfolds, it goes deeper into both characters, showing us a perfect fit and how much they need to be together. The whole thing is basically this big, dramatic, love-story wish fulfilled.

I can’t say enough about how much I love this series.

The books are black and white, about 200 pages long, and each takes only a few hours to read. If you haven’t read manga before, it will take a little getting used to, a little effort at first to follow the flow of the pictures and dialogue, and to get used to reading from right to left. This is a wonderful series, however, for showing off what manga does so well: the marrying of art with story. It’s a great example of how, unlike many American comics, manga isn’t bound to right-angled frames. The images are often splashed over the page, drawn within shapes, floating hazily in the background, working with and enhancing the experience of the story.

I’ve really got to encourage you to give this one a try, especially if you have that lust for character-driven melodrama (teen soap) that I do. There are many used copies available on Amazon, many for $0.01 plus shipping, or about $4. Get the first one, see what you think.

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When Teens Aren’t Teens- Inspired by The Vampire Diaries

So what I’m getting from Netflix (or is that Quixster?? what-ever) now is The Vampire Diaries. It’s one of those things I’m taking in because it’s popular and I want to know why, because it’s aimed at an audience that overlaps my target audience. It’s not a bad show, but I find it’s one that I have to make myself pay attention to a lot of the time, and of course I find myself making constant comparisons between it and Buffy.

One of the things that really struck me from season one is how eager these characters were to fall into bed with each other, and how the creators of the show didn’t seem to have any problem showing that to teens at all. I was watching this at a time when I was really gnashing my teeth trying to figure out the level of sensuality I was going to put into Heroes ‘Til Curfew. And we’re not even up to actual sex in my series, partly because I really believe that girls should save it as long as they can manage it because, face it, you’re never going to get as much foreplay again in your whole life as in that period when you’re putting off going all the way.

But since The Vampire Diaries girls are in fiction, they’ll probably always get great foreplay, so it doesn’t matter how easily they fall into bed. It was just that, like I said, I kept comparing to Buffy and remembering what a BIG DEAL it was, what a buzz there was around Buffy and Angel consummating their relationship, and this just seemed so commonplace, all these years later.

I remember that it was when I was making the transition from high school to college, around the same time that the 90210 kids were, that I really started to recognize that the actors who play TV teens are actually much older. (And yet, as you know, I was still shocked to learn how old Tom Welling really is.) Besides all the drama Shannon Daugherty always had going in the entertainment news, I can remember watching the show in the dorm and someone talking about the actual ages of some of the actors and how it kind of blew my mind a bit.

So what I’ve been thinking about lately, is that it’s one thing for older actors to play teens, but it’s a whole other thing for the characters to be running around, acting like adults. Now that I’m in season two, Elena and Stephan are going away to the lakehouse for a romantic weekend. Cool! But wait, they’re not sneaking out the window, she’s not getting her friends to cover for her with her guardian. Nope, she and Stephan grab her bags and are like, Okay, we’re headed to the lakehouse for a romantic weekend! And Aunt Jenna’s all, Okay, have a great time!

Um, what? Because I’m left sitting here on my couch going, Young lady, did you forget how old you are? High school girls don’t get to go off alone with their boyfriends for romantic weekends! You get your ass upstairs and unpack that bag right now!

So thanks, Vampire Diaries, for making me feel like someone’s really old mom. Awesome.

But WTF? BtVS was always very much grounded in where Buffy was in life. She wasn’t conveniently orphaned and given some conveniently negligent, too young, too much trying to be cool guardian. She had a mom who caused complications in her life as a superhero. She got in trouble when she had to miss school for supernatural reasons. She actually did school work and had some concern about her grades (again, because she had a parent). She was always trying to find her way, to continue on her normal path of growing up even though nothing about her life was normal. She expressed that best near the end of the series when she told Angel,

Okay, I’m cookie dough. I’m not done baking. I’m not finished becoming whoever the hell it is I’m gonna turn out to be. I make it through this, and the next thing, and the next thing, and maybe one day I turn around and realize I’m ready. I’m cookies. And then, you know, if I want someone to eat— [eyes go wide as she catches herself] or enjoy warm, delicious cookie me, then…that’s fine. That’ll be then. When I’m done.”

That was really summing up something that was so much a part of the series: Buffy baking. I don’t get that in tVD. I often don’t see that transition from child to adult playing a part in shaping the characters and their reactions to problems that come up in the show. The teens interact with the adults almost as if there’s no difference in status at all. School seems like a set and a backdrop, but not something that really matters in their plans.

I guess what I’m thinking is that, while there’s a certain amount of cool factor and wish fulfillment in having teen characters do adult things, teens really aren’t just adults with tighter skin. When you forget that, when you forget their unique challenges, you lose something.

So what do you think? Am I just annoyed because Elena’s behaving like an idiot martyr in season two and everyone’s falling all over themselves to take care of her? Or can you think of other fictions which support my theory that writing teens like adults doesn’t work so great?

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My reactions to Supernatural Season 6

Well, as yet I have not been inundated with Pimp Your Book guest posts. Which is kind of surprising to me. I thought people would be into that. That’s okay, though, because it leaves my Friday open to tell you that Amazon sent me Supernatural Season 6 a couple weeks ago and I’ve managed to watch it all already.

This might be slightly spoilery regarding the series in general.

Dean

This picture reminds me that I owe Dylan a new jacket...

I guess I should have titled this: My lack of reactions… Because other than Dean is so pretty… I’m feeling pretty meh about things. I was okay with things at the end of season 5. It seemed like Dean was on the brink of something he’d been wanting throughout the series to that point. And now that the world was safe from apocalypse he could settle down with a woman he couldn’t forget, with a cool kid, instant family, and he could get a rest from the horror. Yeah, I was sad for him that he lost Sam, and that was going to scar. But I thought he could have built a life for himself and I would have been okay with the series ending there.

I was okay with the loss of Sam, by the way. I clearly have my preference. I usually like Sam, but sometimes he gets downright whiny, and I’ll admit that all the mistakes he made due to sibling rivalry and pride that eventually led to the end of season 5, kind of made me feel less tragic about the whole thing.

Going into season 6, you knew they had to mess the life that Dean had finally made for himself. The show is what it is and it’s not like he can do the show, hold down a 9-5, and show up for dinner on time. And I was okay with that. But I expected it to be worth it.

For one thing, season 6 felt like a rehash of previous seasons, only without the awesomeness. It was like all the spark was gone from the writing. Sam’s “issue” through the first part of the season just kind of sucked everything that made him Sam-like out of his character. So he was no longer such a good contrast for Dean. And when his problem was discovered and they set about to fix it, there was really a lack of conflict built into that. Sam had some concerns for his own well-being, but mostly it was an entirely external thing and there was none of the angsting that the show did so well in the past.

The biggest problem I see in this season, though, is that there just aren’t any stakes anymore. Everyone dies a soap opera death. I think Dean actually jokes about that at some point. Like, go ahead and kill me, I’ll just come back. Anyone gets seriously hurt, Castiel just fixes them. If no one can really be hurt or killed, then there’s no sense of danger. No stakes. And that means there’s no tension. And why should I care?

So that’s the lesson I got out of watching season 6. Watch your stakes and beware of creating too-powerful characters and making your fiction life too safe. Even though I had season 1-5 on DVD already, had I watched this season via Netflix first, I might not have bought it at all.

What about you? Did you like season 6?

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The Forest of Hands and Teeth- How much is a dream worth?

I totally owe you guys a post about fiction. I’ve been watching Supernatural Season 6 and I’m not sure I’m ready for any kind of coherent verbalization on that yet. But I just finished reading Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth yesterday so yay! Something to blog about.

There’s no good book/bad book question here. Pretty sure this is a NYT Bestseller, has a bunch of other awards and accolades, isn’t there talk of a movie?And if you give the book enough of a chance to get into it, it’s clear the author has skills. The writing is vivid and there are passages in the book that are absolutely brilliant. Anyone read it and want to agree with me that the tension between Mary and Travis that night when the Sisters were just outside the door was just incredible?

The basic premise behind the book is that Mary lives in a village that is fenced off from the rest of the world because the rest of the world is peopled with zombies called “The Unconsecrated.” Mary’s people don’t even know if there are still other people left in the world, and, unlike Mary, very few people seem to have a burning desire to know. She’s one of those characters who is driven by a need to know–What’s beyond the fences? Are we the only ones left? Is there really such a thing as the ocean?

Though there were aspects of the book I really liked, I wasn’t the ideal reader for it. First of all, present tense. Arg! I’ve hated present tense since Judy Blume’s Tiger Eyes in the 80s. Present tense narration just feels unnatural to me for storytelling. I hope the rash of it we’ve had in the last few years goes away soon. But, like I said, I’ve read a handful of them recently and I know that I can put that aside, so that wasn’t what really bothered me.

The following discussion may be somewhat spoilery. If you haven’t read it and intend to, consider skipping this post.

When I first finished the book, I thought that my dissatisfaction was because of what happened in the romance between Mary and Travis. It’s a bit of a triangle because Travis is with Mary’s best friend, Cass, and Travis’s brother, Harry, is the one who offers to court Mary. Then it seems like Harry and Cass have a thing and Mary and Travis have a thing, so why don’t they just all talk it out and couple up right, dammit?! That’s frustrating and sometimes annoying, though I have to say that finding out of Mary is ever going to get Travis was definitely something that kept me reading the story.

There’s a point in the story in which Travis seems so important to Mary. But then, when she more or less has him, she doesn’t seem to care. There’s a point in the story in which we find out that nothing, with regard to the young men and their feelings for her and Cass, is quite what Mary thought them to be. To me, this seemed like a revelation. It was a big deal. But by that point in the story, Mary was so freakin’ obsessed this the freakin’ ocean, with strangers in photographs, and with what lies beyond the world she can see–honestly, I don’t think it really penetrated.

I never felt like she felt things enough. Maybe this obsession with the ocean was a defense mechanism against all the chaos brought on by the story, but I didn’t get that. What I got was that Mary just didn’t really care about anything else except Mary and the ocean.

So I was really trying to find a way to like her. I was trying to convince myself that there was heroic nobility in this thing where she had her dream of the ocean. She believed it, no matter how impossible it seemed, and she followed it, no matter how the odds were stacked against her. And that’s really admirable, right?

But I can’t make myself see her as a hero because she I just felt like she put her own needs before everyone else’s to the point where she couldn’t really connect with them. She didn’t really care about them. It wasn’t like she was trying to achieve a dream at great personal cost, because what cost can there be when everything else doesn’t really mean anything to you?

So, like I said, it was a good book, but I wasn’t the right reader. I’m sure there will be people who read it and wonder if we even read the same book. That’s just how reading is. This was my interpretation.

So discuss. Was it just me? Anyone else feel this way about Mary’s character?

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The Marvel/DC Movie Scorecard

I dunno, this summer I think it’s been Marvel 2, DC zip. I’ve been thinking about the superhero movies I’ve seen this season: Thor, X-Men, Green Lantern, and Captain America.

Thor's first appearance in jeans.

OMG, Thor

I don’t even know why I liked Thor so much. I mean, okay, kind of coming back to me right now. But THAT doesn’t explain why this was the movie that made me want to go home and write some freakin’ Talent Chronicles! Like, seriously, there wasn’t really anything about this story that was like my story, but it got me excited about telling mine again.

The story was pretty straight-forward, but I think maybe the thing that pulled at me was how Thor changed so much by his exile. He was humbled. By the end of the 3rd quarter he was willing to martyr himself and was finally worthy of the position pretty much handed to him by birth, so he got his powers back and left to kick some 4th quarter ass.

X-Men First Class

X-Men First Class

I’m thinking it was the X-Men I saw next. And I have to say that it was just X-Men devotion that had me coming away liking this movie. It was no Wolverine. And I love James McAvoy, but making young Professor Xavier into a ridiculous Austin Powers character SO DID NOT WORK FOR ME. No, baby.

Ryan Renolds shows off his Green Lantern suit

Ryan Renolds shows off his Green Lantern suit

Green Lantern was disappointing. I was looking forward to this one, and I came out of the theater feeling blah. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the movie, I guess, but just that there wasn’t much there. This might also be because I’m more familiar with the Green Lantern origin story than with any of these others, but it just felt empty and what was there felt really cliched.

Captain America shows off his new shoulders.

How do you feel? Taller.

Saw Captain America this past weekend and I really liked it. Not love, but I really liked it. The story was good with, with all the right elements where they should be and it felt like a good balance between what was expected and stuff that was new and interesting. Although I don’t actually know because I don’t know the Marvel characters as well as I know the SuperFriends (lesson there: you had me a Saturday morning).

I thought they did a great job getting classic Captain elements into a story newcomers could enjoy. Pacing was good, styling was superb. I particularly liked their pick for Howard Stark, and you KNOW I loved evil Hugo Weaving because Agent Smith is totally grown up Anderson (see: Impulse Control) in my head.

What have we learned from this? Well, judging from my pics and top picks, I’d say that we’ve learned that, regardless of what I SAY, my judgement is pretty much totally based on shirtless brawn. But I’m sure there’s a lesson in that because women are turning out to see these movies, and comic book heroes aren’t just for boys anymore–ask any Smallville fan.

Also interesting to note, from my “superheroes need happy endings” perspective, is that 3 out of 4 of these guys do not get the girl. (I’m thinking GL got the girl, but that relationship didn’t have enough story/conflict to hold my interest, so I’m not even sure.)

So what about you guys? I know you have opinions about these movies. Tell me what you thought and why.

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Lady Mechanika: Steampunk Goodness in a Comic

I went to throw my Nook in the pool bag the other day and the battery was dead. After some wailing and gnashing of teeth I realized that I have plenty of paper to read. I have a whole stack of comics I need to get at. One of the things I tossed in the bag was the first three issues of Lady Mechanika.

Lady Mechanika Collected Edition #1 at TFAW

Lady Mechanika Collected Edition #1 at TFAW

Issues 0 and 1 sold out, so I read these in this spiffy collected edition. Issue 0 finds the lady in an underground setting, competing with bounty hunters to find a creature that’s been running amok and scaring to populace. What interests Mechanika is the rumor that the creature is partly mechanical, like she is. Could it offer a clue to the missing parts of her past? Yes, yes it could.

In issue 1 we’re introduced to a drunkard, widowed genius inventor ally who seems to me to have potential, and a leggy nemesis with flaming red hair–because what’s life without a little gratuitous girl-on-girl violence? The story expands as Lady Mechanika follows another clue that might lead to her creator.

Lady Mechanika #2 at TFAW

Lady Mechanika #2 at TFAW

In issue #2, the aforementioned redhead, Commander Winter, along with team, corners Lady Mechanika. Threats are traded and backstory revealed before the lady gets herself out of that mess. We’re introduced to the intriguing figure of Mr. Cain who might have something to do with Mechanika’s past. Meanwhile, the lady herself follows the trail to a gypsy circus.

If you have any appreciation for steampunk art at all, the books are worth the price for the illustrations alone, drawn by author Joe Benitez. It’s a beautifully rendered story, and the story itself is unfolding nicely.

Lady Mechanika #3 at TFAW

Lady Mechanika #3 at TFAW

Issue #3 seems to be delayed until after Christmas! Which sucks for me, but as it seems even the collected reprint of the first issues is selling out, it gives you plenty of time to track them down and catch up.

There’s a reason this series is so popular. And unlike some comics, I didn’t find myself having too much trouble following which bubble to read or what panel to look to next, so it’s probably not a bad one for those who don’t read a lot in this format. Check it out if you can.

Thanks go to Andrew Mocete who always gives good recs.

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Thoughts on YA ParaRom and a bit of Wicked Lovely

I’ve been talking books with people quite a bit lately. Like real, in person people I meet. Not that I meet so many people, it’s just that it’s unusual for me to, you know, talk to them.

The main difference is that I’m so out of the closet on this writer thing these days. Either people are introducing me as “an author” (!) or, when asked for my occupation, I’m actually owning it. This leads eventually to the polite question of what do I write, to which I generally answer Teen Paranormal Romance, which often leads to some discussion of Twilight.

At the moment, it seems, the Twilight saga defines our genre.

Did you know Amazon has a whole Twilight store?

Which is, like, really weird, because almost no one ever wants to own loving it. I find that I’m usually easier on it than whoever I’m talking to because I enjoyed the first book (except the end when the trouble started), I enjoyed Stephanie Meyer’s voice in that book, I don’t think she’s a terrible writer, and I actually read (mostly on audio) the four books so I got the closure there was to get. While I didn’t like the later ones, still found moments to enjoy and I was still committed to finding out what happened to the characters which I recognize as points for her.

Yes, this is me.

Last week I wore my “…and then Buffy staked Edward, The End” t-shirt to the Magic Kingdom and had at least 6 people take the time to stop me and tell me it’s the best shirt evar. It is, thank you Kait for sending it to me.

Anyways, I don’t hate the books, the story, the writing. I concentrate my dislike on Edward who cannot seem to come into this century and give his girl any kind of equality in the relationship. He’s completely dismissive of her thoughts and wants because he knows best. And the fact that this is a-ok with Bella makes it impossible for me to respect her, woman to woman. I think *spoiler, please scroll*

it’s good she became a vampire because maybe that will arrest her emotional development such that she doesn’t mature to a time when she no longer wants her lover to act like a father, wonders why she ever got into this relationship, and sees his behavior as manipulative and controlling.

*/spoiler* I mean, how often in real life are we seeing girls with weak or absent fathers who get together with much older and/or very controlling men at a young age to fill the lack, then they mature and don’t like what they chose? And yet, really, they’re the ones who have done the changing because they eventually grew up the way they’re supposed to. I see it a lot. I’m not bashing these girls at all, it’s just observation.

So what I saw in Bella, as these stories developed, was a character who was very realistic but, unfortunately, not one I could look up to and admire, which is something I enjoy in my reading.

Anyway, that was just a huge tangent. The real point was that I say I write Teen Paranormal Romance, Twilight immediately comes to mind, “Oh, like Twilight?” and then comes a discussion in which, usually, both of us like YA PNR and neither of us really likes Twilight.

And yet there it is, Twilight more or less defining the genre. Isn’t that weird? It’s come to the point where, when we discuss these books, the first descriptor is “not like Twilight.” Even though that means anything from “strong heroine” to “vampire free” to “no love triangles here.”

Not mad about it, I’m just sayin’: this has been my experience.

So while I was on vacation I read Wicked Lovely. It’s “not like Twilight.” I had this on audio from the library and while I was home I did have a little trouble getting into it. And this may have been because it felt like there might be a triangle and I run screaming from those (which is, like, the only reason I haven’t read past the first book of the Hunger Games). But if triangles are a problem for you, this book ended up getting my seal of approval. The way she works through the relationships of the story is good.

The whole book, really, is very good. The world is very dark and Melissa Marr’s construction, command, and descriptions of it are excellent. It’s imaginative, though it also feels solidly based in lore, and the writing is very vivid yet not drowned in detail.

Basically the story is about a fairy prince, Keenan, who has to find the right girl to break a curse that keeps him under his evil, queenly mother’s thumb. He sets his sights on Aislinn, a girl who, unlike nearly all humans, can actually see the fairies and is terrified of them. Her avoidance of letting the fairies know she can see them and staying below their radar has been the main focus of her life and has very much made her what she is. Which, luckily for us, is not a wilting ‘fraidy cat, but a tough, proactive, resourceful heroine who doesn’t want anything to do with the handsome prince. One of her resources is Seth, your basic solid rock of a male character who quietly cares for her. He’s pretty dreamy. He’s one of those guys who will always stand by her, but he lets her call the shots in her own life and problems.

I’d call this YA Romantic Dark Fantasy, I guess, which I enjoy and yet usually doesn’t grab hold of me and make me have to read it. So any lack of enthusiasm here is about me,  not because of the book. I think there was some foul language, but it was pretty minimal, if I recall. There was sensuality but it was handled extraordinarily responsibly–nearly too much so for my adult romance reading self. But as I listened to this in my car with my 6yo not paying attention to it in the backseat, it didn’t make me cringe and say oops. I think I’d be comfortable handing this to any middle school advanced reader.

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