Spider-Gwen V1: Greater Power (Jason Latour)

Spider-Gwen V1: Greater Power (Jason Latour)Spider-Gwen, Vol. 1: Greater Power by Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez, Tom Taylor, Chris Visions, Rico Renzi, Marcio Takara, Various
Published by Marvel on May 24th 2016
Genres: Comics and Graphic Novels
Pages: 151
Format: ebook
Source: Prime Reading
Amazon
Goodreads

GWEN STACY IS BACK IN THE WEBS AND HAS AN ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT MYSTERY TO SOLVE!

THE SPIDER-WOMAN of Earth-65 was convinced that the Lizard's threat died in her arms along with Peter Parker. But a new reptilian rampage leaves her with doubts not only about Peter's life, but also his death. While her father, Captain George Stacy, struggles with Gwen's double life, troubles mount as the Osborns make their debut — and Gwen finds herself on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s most-wanted list! Perhaps Jessica Drew, the Spider-Woman of Earth-616, can offer some wise lessons about power and responsibility that might come in handy when Gwen battles the Goblins! Plus: Discover who wields the shield as Earth-65's Captain America joins the fray — but will she be on Gwen's side?

COLLECTING: SPIDER-GWEN (2015B) #1-6.

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★
Readability: ★★★★

I’ve recently discovered the Kindle Prime Reading feature, and have been pleasantly surprised to find it has quite a lot of options for comics and graphic novels. I’ve no shortage of books I want to read on my shelves, but I never buy comics or graphic novels, although I am curious about them.  When I was working as a bookseller Spider-Gwen was always a reasonably popular title so when I saw this was on Prime Reading I decided to give it a go.

In this parallel universe storyline Gwen Stacey was bitten by a radioactive spider and became Spider-Gwen, while Peter Parker is dead.

So the first and probably most important thing to realise is that although this is volume 1, it isn’t actually the best starting place for Spider-Gwen.  Turns out there’s a Volume 0 (Most Wanted), which I didn’t realise.  As a result, I found the storyline a little disjointed and complicated at times, which I’m sure could have been avoided if I’d actually started in the right place!  I didn’t find it too bad though; when something came along I didn’t know about I basically just accepted it and moved on – I didn’t have to go googling backstory or anything to keep up.

Probably my favourite thing about Spider-Gwen v1 is the artwork; more than anything I loved the vibrant colours and Gwen’s costume which is so different.  What let the book down, for me, was the character depth; Gwen has plenty of guilt (from events in v0!) but not a huge amount else going for her. She tries to be funny but while some of it was amusing some of it fell really flat, and aside from her interactions with her Dad her connections with other characters were a bit underwhelming. Ultimately, at this stage, I want Gwen to succeed more so that her dad doesn’t get hurt than because I actually care about Gwen herself.  I wanted to see more of her as a person – we get almost nothing in terms of her as a friend, as a person with any kind of hobbies or life outside of being a superhero.  Obviously I realise this is a comic about superheroes, but no one cares about a hero they don’t like or who seems completely two-dimensional.

I’m intrigued by the concept, and if Volume 2 appeared on Prime Reading or at the library I’d give it a go, but I won’t be rushing out to buy it.  In the meantime, I may well go back and read volume 0 and see if that gives me more reasons to emotionally connect with Gwen!

Buy it? This is one that I’d probably borrow personally.
In a nutshell: It was interesting, the artwork is beautiful, and it almost certainly makes more sense if you start with volume 0!

Harry Potter Make Up Brush review

Harry Potter Make up Brushes (sadly the bag didn’t come with them but it’s a cute match I think!)

So something completely different from me today – make up brushes?! I apologise in advance for the photos, I’m most definitely not a beauty blogger, I just came across these and thought some other book nerds might appreciate them too.  A few months ago I came across Harry Potter make up brushes online which were super cute and tempting. They were by no particular brand which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence BUT I’m also not a huge make-up person (Nights out only really) so I don’t really need anything amazing.  I tried looking online for reviews and didn’t really find anything conclusive – some people said they were great, others said they were awful, and every set had been purchased somewhere different, so who knew which would apply?  For about £5 though, I figured they were worth a go, and today I’m sharing my thoughts! The particular seller I ordered mine from isn’t listing them anymore, but they’re back on Amazon at the minute.  Interestingly, I’ve since discovered that a while ago Storybook Cosmetics did a set that looked very similar but has been discontinued because it didn’t have the proper licensing.  I figure these are probably a knock off set of those which makes my brain hurt a little if I think about it too much.

So, in each set you get five brushes. Mine arrived wrapped in plastic, with each brush individually wrapped as well – plus points for protecting them while they travel but a negative on the envrionmentally-friendly front.  Personally, for a fiver I wouldn’t have minded if they’d been just wrapped once, and better yet wrapped in something like brown paper instead of plastic.  When I first opened them, the first thing I noticed is that they’re heavier than I expected. Some of the reviews online say they’re metal-handled but the ones I’ve got are definitely plastic, and come in a silver tone – when I bought them they came in a choice of silver, gold, gunmetal or rose gold, but most places seem to just have either the silver or gunmetal now.  I went for the silver because I was worried the gunmetal might just look dirty, and I’ll always choose silver over gold/rose gold. Despite that, they feel substantial and sturdy.  The second thing I noticed is that they’re really soft – before these worked their way into my regular make up bag I was using a mixture of ecotools and body shop brushes and these feel just as soft, not scratchy at all.  They’re quite long (longer than a standard pen for a size comparison) which I love because it gives me plenty of room – I can hold near to the brush for fiddly work, or further away for broader sweeps of colour.  Also, while the Harry Potter design is purely for the love of fandom rather than any practical use, I quite liked having something ridged to hold onto because I’m a clumsy soul.

From left to right: Harry, Dumbledore, Voldemort, Ron & Hermione

Each brush is themed around a particular Harry Potter character, from the left I think we’ve got: Harry, Dumbledore, Voldemort, Ron & Hermione.  Honestly, my make up knowledge basically extends to being able to tell you that they’re all eyeshadow brushes, so I’ll just talk you through what I’ve noticed & what I use them for!

To photo the product pick up, I used a Collection 2000 palette I had lying around, just because it had a variety of colours, though they’re not the best in terms of pigmentation. Otherwise though you’d probably be looking at five different shades of metallic because I’m a creature of habit and that’s what I tend to buy!  For each swatch, I used the brush to pick up product just once, dry, picking up product the same way I would for putting on makeup normally.  From left to right: Harry (purple), Voldemort (green), Ron (blue), Hermione (black), Dumbledore (bronze).

Left to right: Harry (purple), Voldemort (green), Ron (blue), Hermione (black), Dumbledore (bronze).

My favourite of the five is probably Dumbledore’s, which is just a fairly standard, dense and fluffy brush. As you can see from the pictures above (bronze) it packed in the most colour, and this is the one I tend to reach for first for an all over sweep of colour when doing my eye make up.  I find Hermione’s, which is the smaller angled brush, the most precise (black swatches), so although I don’t tend to wear eyeliner, I occasionally would use this brush wet for giving a little bit of definition.  Ron’s, the fluffier angled brush, is perfect for adding colour into the creases (blue swatches) and if I wanted to pack a lot of colour in a smaller area for a smoky eye type look, I’d add that with Harry’s (purple swatch).  Honestly, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to use Voldemort’s wand for (green) – it’s a fluffier and less dense brush – but I tend to just use it for blending.  Alternatively if I’m going for a really subtle daytime look I might use it over Dumbledore’s, though I have to admit if I could only fit one in my make up bag, it’d be Dumbledore’s.

All in all, I have to say I’m really pleased with this set. If you’re a high-end brush fan, of course they’re not going to compare, but as a bit of a novice, and always on a budget, I think they’re great: they’re soft, they’re easy to use, they’re budget friendly and they let me add a little nerd to my make up bag. What’s not to like?

January TBR & Goals

What’s on in January?

January means back to work, Bout of Books 24, new episodes of Riverdale and feeling motivated about new year goals (yes, I am that person).  I’ve started Bullet Journalling again, I’m eating more healthy foods, and in a weird twist of events, I’ve set my reading goal at it’s lowest number ever because I want to enjoy non-reading activities too without feeling guilty! I’ve got an assignment due this month (boo) but I’m also going to a lovely wedding (yay) so it’s a busy month with some good things to look forward to.

January’s TBR list

Trials of Apollo – The Dark Prophecy (432) | Library
Polgara the Sorceress (816) | Scribd
Skyward (352) | Owned (audiobook)
The History of Bees (524) | Owned

Target pages = 2124
Plus one of these three:

TBR winner (approx 310) | Owned

 

 

January Goals

  • Being healthier
    • Track my food everyday
    • Come within +/- 100 calories of my calorie count goal on at least 25 days
    • Exercise 10 times
    • Lose 4 lbs – Hopefully this should follow logically on from the first few goals?!
  • Work/Life Balance
    • Plan summer 2019 holiday – I’m currently completing a teacher training course and it’s probably one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. One definite perk though is that I’ll get time off over the summer with my husband, so we’re planning a holiday. I’d like to get something more concrete planned out or booked so it can really go on the list of things to look forward to.
    • Submit assignment before the deadline (at least one night before) so I’m not panicking last minute
  • Blogging
    • Post 8 blog posts (or more!)
    • Schedule 3 posts for February
  • Finance
    • See 2 films at the cinema – I have a cineworld unlimited card which last year saved me nearly £100 but it’d be nice to save even more this year
    • Start an emergency fund
    • Pay off my credit card

What do you have planned for January?

#MyTBRList – January Vote!

TBRMemeMy TBR list is a meme hosted by Michelle at Because Reading which aims to help knock a few books off our TBR piles by letting everyone else vote on what we should read!

One of my goals for 2019 is to focus on series, so this month I’ve picked three books from my endless list of series to catch up on.  For all three of these series, I only need to read one book to either catch up or finish, and I have the book needed on my shelves already, so it’s just a case of deciding which to start with!

** POTENTIAL SPOILER WARNING: This month I’m featuring sequels, so the synopses for these potentially contain spoilers for earlier books. **

Muse of Nightmares – Strange the Dreamer #2

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.
She believed she knew every horror, and was beyond surprise.
She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice – save the woman he loves, or everyone else? – while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with the thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Hellbent – Orphan X #3

‘Do you need my help?’

They called him Orphan X. Evan Smoak used to be a government secret weapon.  Then he ran and became the man you call on when you’ve nowhere else to turn.

This time it’s a teenage runaway called Joey.  Like Evan she’s no innocent: she was brought up inside the same programme that raised him.

Now Evan must find Joey before those hunting her do.  Which is where the trouble begins.  Because this might not be about Joey at all.  And if it’s not, then it must be about Evan.

But finding out why could kill them both …

 

Zero Day – Skitter #3

The world is on the brink of apocalypse. Zero Day has come.

The only thing more terrifying than millions of spiders is the realization that those spiders work as one. But among the government, there is dissent: do we try to kill all of the spiders, or do we gamble on Professor Guyer’s theory that we need to kill only the queens?

For President Stephanie Pilgrim, it’s an easy answer. She’s gone as far as she can-more than two dozen American cities hit with tactical nukes, the country torn asunder – and the only answer is to believe in Professor Guyer. Unfortunately, Ben Broussard and the military men who follow him don’t agree, and Pilgrim, Guyer, and the loyal members of the government have to flee, leaving the question: what can be more dangerous, the spiders or ourselves?

Which book shall I read in January?

  • Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer #2) (71%, 5 Votes)
  • Hellbent (Orphan X #3) (14%, 1 Votes)
  • Zero Day (Skitter #3) (14%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 7

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Thank you for voting! Next week I’ll check in to let you know which book won!

Head On (John Scalzi)

Head On (John Scalzi)Head On (Lock In, #2) by John Scalzi
Published by Tor Books on April 17th 2018
Genres: Sci Fi
Pages: 335
Format: audio
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

John Scalzi returns with Head On, the standalone follow-up to the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed Lock In. Chilling near-future SF with the thrills of a gritty cop procedural, Head On brings Scalzi's trademark snappy dialogue and technological speculation to the future world of sports.

Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it.

Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field.

Is it an accident or murder? FBI Agents and Haden-related crime investigators, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, are called in to uncover the truth―and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost, and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★★★

I have a habit of searching for audiobooks based on narrators, and then narrowing those down to titles that sound interesting. Since Wil Wheaton’s narration of Ready Player One remains one of my favourite audiobook performances ever, I tend to keep a pretty close eye on what else he’s narrating, which led me to Lock In way back in 2014.  The premise of Lock in – and it’s sequel, Head On – is really interesting: in the near future, a medical syndrom called Haden’s leaves some people ‘locked in’; unable to move, or speak.  Hadens interact through the world through threeps (robots), and the series follows Chris, a famous Haden who’s also a rookie FBI agent, attempting to solve murder cases.  In Head On,the mystery revolves around Hilketa – a game in which Hadens control robots and earn points by ripping off another players head and shooting it through a hoop.  Partway through a game, one of the star players dies, with no obvious cause.

I really loved the concept of Lock In, but I found it a bit predictable and slow.  I’m pleased to say I thought Head on was much less predictable, though the pacing was still a little off – it took a while to really get going I thought, maybe thanks to the background we needed to understand Hilketa.  I thought the characters were slightly better than in Lock In too – Chris is, as before, a likeable, normal character: the kind of character you’d probably happily have a drink and play pool with, pretty down to earth despite the family’s money.  Vann is significantly less irritating in this second book, although I’m still not emotionally invested in her one way or the other.  I found her and Chris’ relationship kind of so-so; they have some mild occasional teasing, but otherwise don’t seem to have much of a bond.  Chris’ housemates are all interesting and I’d definitely have liked to see more interactions there, though I can see why there weren’t more – the pacing was a little slow at times as it was, so I don’t think they could have added much more without making that more noticeable.

The series is great in terms of gender, diversity, and challenging your unconscious assumptions without being at all in your face or preachy.  In fact, although I called Chris ‘he’ all the way through my review of Lock In, Scalzi deliberately didn’t specify Chris’ gender and both books have two audiobook versions: one narrated by Wil Wheaton and one by Amber Benson.  I actually didn’t realise at all, and assumed based on Wil’s narration that Chris was a he, which gave me lots of pause for thought when I eventually realised!  Despite my issues with the books, I’ll definitely be pre-ordering if the series continues, because the premise is so interesting, and Scalzi’s clearly put a lot of thought into how the world would be changed as a result of 1% of the population having Hadens.

Buy it? I think this is worth buying as an audiobook, because Wheaton’s narration really does add to the experience.
In a nutshell: It’s very clever, the premise is interesting, but the characters and pacing let it down a little.