Sunday, May 28, 2017


Unless was art. From the first chapter, this simple, yet complex tale struck me on an artistic level. It fully deserves every award and accolade it has ever received. I don't even know if I can fully describe how much I loved it. Carol Shields' Unless is definitely one of my new favourite books. As I was reading it, I felt it happening, felt myself falling more and more into the story, the characters and the craft of the words. I felt myself fearing the end, fearing the reveal as to what caused Norah's change. Ends can make or break a book for me, but this ending was a bit surprising, but also sort of what I had hoped it what be. I say only a bit surprising, because if I think back to some of the things Reta talked about with her friends, her arc and the story's arc throughout the novel, it is not that surprising. I feel like subtle literary hints were dropped. Of course, they were expertly weaved into the story.

Part of me feels like, why didn't I read Unless years ago? I've only had this copy for about a year (that's not that long compared to some of the unread books I own), but it was published in 2002 and it's by a great Canadian author. I feel like maybe I aught to have read it when I first read The Handmaid's Tale. The other part of me, the maternal part I think, is glad I read it now. I connected with Reta. Though my children are much younger, I also struggle with finding stories, whether books, film or television, with strong female representation. Not just for my daughter, but for my son too. (I'm going to stop there before I get too political and I'll stick with Reta's story.) The letters that she writes grow more and more scathing. I really liked when she said, you couldn't include Virginia Woolf? (I'm paraphrasing.) But she was right and she was connecting it with trying to figure out what happened to Norah.

There's so much in Unless. Motherhood, marriage, women, friendship, mentorship, all ran throughout the story. I found myself questioning Reta's relationship with Danielle Westerman. I don't know if I liked her. Though I always tried to remember that she was 85 and had been used to a certain dynamic with Reta. Now there was a change. Not just with Reta's home life, but Reta had other projects she was working on too. I felt that Danielle expected Reta's feelings to always be like hers, and they weren't. I reminded me of a bit of a parent-child relationship, where you expect your adult child to be more like you than they actually are, then are surprised. Reta's editor was driving me a bit nuts too. He just wouldn't let her talk, she couldn't finish a sentence. All the changes he wanted to make were infuriating. Unless invoked strong emotions with every chapter. It was a great, consuming read. There are so many more aspects I could explore and I look forward to finding more in future readings.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Wonder Woman: Blood

Wonder Woman: Blood was a surprise. Not just because I didn't know what the story was about, but because it was a present. I received Blood, along with Guts, Iron, War, and Flesh. I intended just to flip through the book, as I am currently reading Unless and I don't typically read more than one book at a time. But I couldn't put it down. There was some weird guy, with these three women drinking champagne, there was a bloody battlefield, there was an interesting gentleman with very different eyes, and there was a woman brandishing a shot-gun at him. Connecting all of this was Wonder Woman. Though really, also connecting all of this, was Zeus.

Suddenly, Diana has this woman to protect, brought to her by Hermes. Everything spins after Diana meets her. I really liked Zola and Hermes. I like the trio that they created with Diana. I'm interested to see how their relationships develop through the rest of the series. I have a feeling Zola at least, will be with Diana for a while. Also, Strife. I have mixed feelings about her. She causes a lot of death (and strife), but she's cool. She's irreverent and she understands things in a way others don't. It's definitely a love/hate relationship.

I really like the expressiveness on the faces of not just Wonder Woman, but the other characters as well. I also found the hard black lines in some of the images appealing. I also really liked the pencil sketches on the reverse side of the covers. I found the art engaging, complementing and heightening the story. I couldn't have ask for a better blend between writer and artists.

I read that there was some controversy though, when this story first came out, because it changed Wonder Woman's origin. Though I'm a little unsure whether or not I like that aspect of the story, I'm not surprised that there was a change. Isn't that what The New 52 was supposed to be? I just feel, with all the movies and new stories coming out now, changing part of a superhero's origin story is not a big deal, as long as it's not changing the essence of what makes that hero who they are. Wonder Woman is still a badass. She's tough, but caring. She is who I have come to expect her to be. MY problem with this Wonder Woman book (and the series, until Volume 7), is that there are no WOMEN working on it. I'm not saying that the men who created this book didn't do a good job, because I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I'm just saying that I wonder if that is why when Zola came out, she was wearing underwear instead of pants or shorts. So, I have mixed feelings about it.

In the end, I very much enjoyed The New 52 - Wonder Woman: Blood and I intend to read the entire series. I think it has gotten me closer to knowing this amazing superhero and made me even more excited to see what they do with the film.

Friday, May 12, 2017


I like a sci-fi Groundhog Day and that's what ARQ gave me, but it had a twist. The twist at the end, that one second, elevated the movie for me. I saw the trailers for this Netflix movie ages ago, but hadn't gotten around to watching it. Then I found myself with some free time and looking for some entertainment. Ren and Hannah are not your usual couple, the trailers were deceptive with that. Every time loop gave us a new surprise.

Through each loop we learn about Ren and Hannah. ARQ starts right in the meat of the story. There is no preamble, no getting to know the starring couple, there's the bed, the time noticed, the attack. With each loop, Ren learns more. Then Hannah does as well. They learn the truth. They learn about each other and the world beyond. The whole situation is crazy. Who do they trust? Do they escape? Do they try to stop the machine? How many loops has it been? That's the question that has really stuck with me - How many loops has it been? How long does each loop last? Is it days? Months? Years? Finding that border, seeing beyond, really made you think.

ARQ is not the first Netflix Original I've watched, but it was the first movie. It has gotten me interested in watching more, not that I need to add more to my queue. ARQ had action, interesting characters, and a story full of twists and surprises. It was exactly the entertainment I wanted. 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps.

Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps. is part of Marvel's Secret Wars, specifically Warzones, and it takes place on Battleworld. I was only a little familiar with Secret Wars, so I wasn't sure what to expect here. Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps takes place in an alternate reality. Captain Marvel is the chosen of Doom and she leads a squadron call the Banshees. The Banshees include characters we're familiar with in connection with Carol Danvers, like Helen Cobb. They live on an army base consisting entirely of women. The only men they seem to ever see are the male members of the Thor Corps. These women are pretty badass. Captain Marvel and the Banshees are elite, and they're smart. They figure out something is wrong with the world, that there aught to be something beyond the sky, that it's not just a void. It was really interesting watching them puzzle through the mystery of their world and the mystery of Captain Marvel's powers.

I really enjoyed Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps. I liked seeing Carol as part of this team. I liked how they all stuck by each other, supporting and believing in each other. I liked watching them try and solve this mystery, science versus doctrine. I enjoyed Kelly Sue DeConnick's story and David Lopez's art. I loved the style that calls back to the early 20th century, but combined with fantastical technology. Though there were things I really liked about Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps, I'm not totally happy with it. I want to know what happens next. I want answers. I want to know what they discover, if they make it. I read an article saying that the end of Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps was like a goodbye letter from Kelly Sue DeConnick, a metaphor for her (and her team) leaving Marvel and Carol Danvers. Well, that's lovely, but it did not leave me with a satisfying conclusion. If you are a Captain Marvel fan, Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps is a must-read, but don't except a neat ending.

Monday, May 01, 2017

A Study In Scarlet

After reading A Study In Scarlet, I can see why so many people have fallen for Sherlock Holmes over the years. He's an ass, but clever. He is charming to Watson, but the Scotland Yard Detectives dislike him, yet are constantly needing him. They want to be better than him, because he's the best. Even thought they use his skills, they take credit for his work. No wonder he gets so jaded! Holmes is funny, serious, intelligent and irreverent. He's an amazing character.

In this first case, Arthur Conan Doyle keeps the plot seemingly simple. We get to know Watson, as the story is told initially from his perspective. We discover Holmes as Watson does. I can imagine that when Doyle first wrote this story, people would wonder who this man was, with his strange behaviour. Now, we learn about Sherlock Holmes as we grow up and his being an investigator is not a surprise. I read A Study In Scarlet waiting for Holmes' attitude. At the beginning of the story, Watson and Holmes have not yet met. After they do, Watson is fascinated by Holmes' studies, peculiarities and personality. They are just discovering each other. They are not the partners we are used to seeing.

Another unexpected part of the tale was the back story of the crime. Though Holmes uses his deductive reasoning and skills to discover the killer, Doyle delves into the motive. He gives us the tale of a family, who was from the state of Utah in America, and all the events that led to the murder in England. It is sad, emotional, and creates sympathy in the reader. I wonder how many, or if all of Sherlock Holmes' tales will have this element. It is a short novel (novella), so I can't really say too much more. Though we know Sherlock Holmes, A Study In Scarlet was not a tale I was familiar with and it was interesting discovering Holmes and the secrets of the mystery.

A Study In Scarlet was also my Spin book. I'm always happy to participate in the Classics Club's Spins. They remind me to read those classics that have been sitting on my shelf for too long. I wonder what other classics were read for today.

After all the fun of A Study In Scarlet, and getting a taste of Doyle's writing, I am looking forward to reading more Sherlock Holmes.