Thematic Recs: The Batman Family

(One day, I will probably do a Thematic Recs post for superhero comics in general. This is not that day.) I love the Bat-family. My love for it knows (almost) no bounds, and this list compiles some of my favourite titles so far – though I’ve probably missed some great ones, as I certainly haven’t read the whole lot!

And for the record, I consider basically all the Gotham-centric heroes to be part of the Bat-family in some small way, so long as they are – or have at some point been – acknowledged by Bruce Wayne, the original Batman.

Scott Beatty & Chuck Dixon//Batgirl: Year One1) Batgirl: Year One by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon. A mini-series chronicling the beginnings of the first Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. I only read this on a whim, but I ended up really loving it, much to my surprise – I’ve never been a huge Barbara Gordon fan.

Peter J. Tomasi//Batman & Robin vol. 12) Batman & Robin by Peter J. Tomasi. The only series on my list since the New 52 rebooted the DC universe (though I do still like some of the other New 52 titles…). This series shows Bruce Wayne teaming up with his son Damian (the fifth Robin), and having to find a balance between fatherhood and crime-fighting.

[This series is collected in seven volumes: Born to KillPearlDeath of the FamilyRequiem for DamianThe Big BurnThe Hunt for Robin and Robin Rises.]

Bryan Q. Miller//Batgirl vol. 13) Batgirl by Bryan Q. Miller. Probably my favourite comic series, this run of Batgirl follows Stephanie Brown, the third Batgirl, as she teams up with Barbara Gordon (now in the role of Oracle) in order to fight crime, and hopefully get some recognition from the Bat-family’s main players.

[This series is collected in three volumes: Batgirl RisingThe Flood and The Lesson.]

Paul Dini//Streets of Gotham vol. 14) Batman: Streets of Gotham by Paul Dini. A sadly short-lived series featuring Dick Grayson (the original Robin, now the new Batman) and Damian Wayne trying to deal with a Bruce Wayne-imposter in Bruce’s absence. The series ended up being cut short, but the storyline was wrapped up in the Batman Incorporated series.

[This series is collected in three volumes: Hush MoneyLeviathan and The House of Hush.]

Judd Winick//Under the Red Hood5) Batman: Under the Hood by Judd Winick. Bruce Wayne deals with a new, incredibly violent, vigilante in Gotham, who calls himself the Red Hood. This is one of my all-time favourite Batman storylines – the big mystery he has to figure out is the identity of the Red Hood (my favourite character in the DC universe, and an important figure from Bruce Wayne’s past). The animated film was also incredible (which was called Under the Red Hood, like the bind-up of the comics), though it presented a rather different backstory from the original comics.

Judd Winick//Red Hood: The Lost Days

+1) Red Hood: The Lost Days by Judd Winick. Just a little bonus recommendation, since this is a spin-off of the Under the Hood storyline, and serves as a prequel to it. It tells the story of the Red Hood’s time training, and his return to Gotham, and gives an interesting new perspective on the events in Under the Hood.

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#CRUSHYOURTBR: Wrap-Up

The readathon is now sadly over, but I had a good three reading days, and I think I did quite well overall! I managed to finish three of the five books on my TBR, as well as one other that I wasn’t planning on reading for #CRUSHYOURTBR, and I also managed to get through a couple more chapters of a fourth book from my list. 😀 Here’s a breakdown of the books I read this weekend:

DAY 1 (161 pages)

Terry Pratchett//MortMort by Terry Pratchett (the final 190 pages). The story of a boy called Mort who gets hired as an apprentice to Death, and on his first day taking on the duties of Death by himself, he accidentally saves the life of someone who was meant to die, which has some very bizarre consequences on the Discworld. This book was hilarious, as all Terry Pratchett’s books that I’ve read have been. The main characters – Mort, Death, his daughter Ysabell and his servant Albert, the Princess Keli, and the wizard Cutwell – were all brilliant to read about, and the story and setting were delightfully weird.4 stars

Nawat by Tamora Pierce (71 pages, from the Tortall and Other Lands anthology). A follow-up novella to the Daughter of the Lioness duology, wherein Aly gives birth to triplets, and she and Nawat (a crow who’s taken human form) try to raise them according to both their human and crow heritages. This was probably my favourite story in the whole anthology, despite the fact that I wasn’t as keen on the Daughter of the Lioness books as I have been on some of Tamora Pierce’s other works… Nevertheless, it was a really cute and funny read.4 stars

DAY 2 (584 pages)

The Dragon’s Tale by Tamora Pierce (62 pages, from Tortall and Other Lands). This one is set sometime after the events of The Immortals quartet, and follows Kitten, the baby dragon that Daine adopted in Wild Magic, as she tries to befriend a young homeless woman who’s been cast out of the nearby village with her infant son, because the villagers are afraid of her magic. I wasn’t a huge fan of Kitten’s voice in this, but otherwise I thought it was very well done. Fans of The Immortals quartet will undoubtedly like it a lot, but I don’t think it was quite as good as Nawat3 stars

At this point, I picked up The Harlequin, and I managed to get through 80 pages of it, but since this series isn’t exactly safe for work, I decided not to take it with me while I was at work all afternoon, then babysitting. 😛 So…

Lost by Tamora Pierce (41 pages, fromTortall and Other Lands). The last of the Tortall-universe stories in the collection, Lost didn’t feature any familiar characters from her previous books, but instead focused on a young but talented mathematician called Adria, living with her abusive father, who one day meets a darking called Lost. This story was really sweet (darkings are so cute!), and all the characters were very relatable – it would’ve been nice if Adria had done a bit more to try to save herself, but it was really great seeing Lost try to help her regain confidence in herself and her abilities.4 stars

Chuck Dixon & Scott Beatty//Batgirl/Robin: Year OneBatgirl / Robin: Year One by Chuck Dixon & Scott Beatty (the final 374 pages). The origin stories of both Dick Grayson (the first Robin) and Barbara Gordon (the first Batgirl). Dick’s story involves a plot by Two-Face (with some input from Shrike, of the League of Assassins), while Barbara has to face off against Killer Moth and Firefly, but both are really engrossing – fast-paced and well-thought out, with great art and character development. I liked the Batgirl comic a little better than the Robin one (which probably only really deserved 4 stars), but they were both excellent.5 stars

Time of Proving by Tamora Pierce (9 pages, from Tortall and Other Lands). A very short story about a girl travelling in the desert, who meets a wounded bull-man and decides to teach him how to survive in the wild. This was an interesting story, and I liked the characters a lot, but it was just much too short, and would really have benefitted from having the world a bit more fleshed-out…3 starsPlain Magic by Tamora Pierce (18 pages, from Tortall and Other Lands). Another snapshot of a story, this time about a girl living in a town that’s about to be attacked by a dragon, and how she meets a woman who has magic with cloth and thread. This was a little more substantial than Time of Proving, so I was able to get a bit more into it – it reminded me a lot of Sandry, from Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic books, though I know they’re not actually connected… 😛4 stars

DAY 3 (242 pages)

Mimic by Tamora Pierce (42 pages, from Tortall and Other Lands). The story of a young shepherd girl who finds a strange lizard-like creature that can mimic other animals, and nurses it back to health. This was one of the anthology’s stronger stories – the characters were likeable and well-developed, and I got emotionally invested enough that the ending made me quite sad (though it’s not a sad story overall). I’d definitely like to see more from this universe!4 stars

Laurell K. Hamilton//The HarlequinThe Harlequin by Laurell K. Hamilton (the final 104 pages). Anita and co. are sent a white mask, which means that the Harlequin (the vampires’ equivalent to the bogeyman, but real) are watching them. And things escalate from there. I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to read this book! 😡 I think I’ve been around halfway through it for about three years or so, so I was pretty surprised that I still remembered what was going on (& therefore, thankfully, I didn’t need to re-start it). And reading it really brought back just how much I love most of the characters in this series (though, just for the record, I still think there are way too many of them…) It’s such a shame that, story-wise the books have gone so far downhill – there was a plot in The Harlequin, but about half of the book was still taken up with all Anita’s relationship issues. (And sex. Lots and lots of sex. Apparently I was right in the middle of a sex scene when I last put this down, so that made for an interesting place to start… 😳 ). I still don’t know if I’m going to read any more of this series, but if I do, then I’ll definitely be picking them up at the library rather than buying them…3 stars

Huntress by Tamora Pierce (26 pages, from Tortall and Other Lands). A story set in modern-day New York, about a girl who gets into huge trouble while trying to fit in with the popular crowd at her school. The real world isn’t something Tamora Pierce usually writes about, but there was a little magic in this, in the form of a goddess who shows up at the end. It was also rather more violent than most of what I’ve read of her work, though I still quite liked it… 🙂

3 stars

Testing by Tamora Pierce (24 pages, from Tortall and Other Lands). This is the last of the short stories in the collection, and has no fantasy elements at all, much to my surprise! 😮 It tells the story of a group of girls in a group home, who pull pranks in order to scare off their new housemothers, and of one particular housemother who manages to surprise them. I didn’t think it was a bad story, exactly, but it did drag rather, and it felt a lot longer than the 24 pages that it actually was. It apparently drew partly on some of Tamora Pierce’s own experiences as a housemother, and I appreciated the brief notes section that came before it in the book…

2 stars

Lastly, I picked up The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud in the last few hours of Sunday, but I only managed to get through 46 pages, so I guess I’ll be finishing that in the next few days…

#CRUSHYOURTBR: Info & TBR

The Crush Your TBR readathon will be taking place this weekend, from Friday 15th – Sunday 17th May, and I’m planning on taking part, so I thought I’d let you know about it! 🙂 It’s hosted by padfootandprongs07 and jacquelynreads, and it seems to be a mostly twitter-based readathon (though, since I don’t have a twitter account, I won’t be joining in with that part of it). You can find the announcement/information video here.

Since it’s a pretty low-key event, there aren’t any official challenges (except, obviously, to read lots of books from your TBR), but I thought it would be fun to have a general theme to my TBR this time. So, my own personal rules are these: 1) I can only include books that I own physical copies of, and 2) I should focus on DNF books (books that I put down halfway through reading, for whatever reason – DNF, for those who don’t already know, stands for Did Not Finish).

Last of all, here’s my tentative TBR:

Laurell K. Hamilton//The Harlequin1) The Harlequin by Laurell K. Hamilton. The 15th book in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, which I’m just over halfway through. This one I’ve picked up and put down a few times already, but I’m not quite ready to give up on it yet. I’m thinking of dropping this series after The Harlequin, though… it’s just gone on for way too long. :/

Chuck Dixon & Scott Beatty//Batgirl/Robin: Year One2) Batgirl / Robin: Year One by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty. I’m only a couple of chapters into this one at the moment, but since it’s a graphic novel, it should be a quick read. 🙂

Jonathan Stroud//The Ring of Solomon3) The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud. The prequel to the Bartimaeus trilogy, which I put down because I didn’t feel that it was living up to the original series… I’m a quarter of the way through it at the moment.

David Mitchell//Cloud Atlas4) Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I read about 100 pages of this last year (or maybe even earlier), then got distracted by something shinier, but I’m really looking forward to getting back to it.

Tamora Pierce//Tortall & Other Lands5) And lastly, I’m planning on breaking up my reading with some short stories from Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce, which I’m about a quarter of the way through.

Obviously I’m not going to be able to finish all of these in just three days, but I’m hoping that I’ll at least be able to shift a few of them off my excessively large “currently reading” shelf on Goodreads… 😳