October 16, 2016

Ladies' Night at Bedrock Comics

Yesterday, Bedrock Comics held a Ladies' Night of Horror with Hope Larson and Amy Chu at their flagship location on Westheimer. (Bedrock Comics has five locations throughout Houston.)

The night started after regular store hours and included food and drinks, a Skype Q&A with Larson and Chu, a coloring contest, a costume contest, and raffles.

I got there a little late and missed the very beginning of the Q&A. What I did hear was quite fascinating. Women in mainstream comics really have reached a tipping point. In five years, Marvel has gone from having zero female-led titles to 22. I did appreciate that Larson, who started and still works in indie comics as well, notes that women have always been working in comics outside the establishment. I also liked their observations on the growing diversity in comics, and how working with LGBTQ creators helps them expand their horizons even if they don't realize what they're doing at the time.

I did not participate in the costume contest, but there was some stiff competition. I did participate in the coloring contest, although I was too distracted by other things to put in much of a respectable effort. But I did go home with prizes, since I won a raffle -- a Supergirl apron and a DC Bombsells Supergirl bottle-opener keychain.

When I attend events like this, I always want to buy something to support the store. However, I was reluctant to buy too much since Bedrock Comics' giant Halloween sale starts October 28th. Fortunately, they gave all attendees 20% off.

I purchased two clearance T-shirts, one Power Rangers and one Doctor Who. I picked up the issues I needed to catch up on The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina plus the first issue of the new Midnighter and Apollo mini.

I had a bunch of fun hanging out with other female comic-book fans. Bedrock Comics intends to hold their next Ladies' Night in March, and I hope to attend that one too. I think it is great that the store is doing events like this and hope they can continue to grow attendance and participation in the contests.

October 12, 2016

"Waiting On" Wednesday: The Boy Is Back

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine.

The Boy is Back I love Meg Cabot. I don't love each and every one of her books, but she has written far more hits than misses in my opinion. Her stories are funny and romantic with a touch of feminist edge.

Recently, she's been returning to old series. Next week, on October 18, a new book in her "Boy" series is coming out. This is one of her adult series, and I remember it consisting mostly of unrelated contemporary romcoms. (I read the last one when it came out in 2005; it's been awhile.)

I'm quite excited to read it, because I love a good cute romance.

Here's the publisher's blurb:

In this brand-new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, a scandal brings a young man back home to the small town, crazy family, and first love he left behind.

Reed Stewart thought he’d left all his small town troubles—including a broken heart—behind when he ditched tiny Bloomville, Indiana, ten years ago to become rich and famous on the professional golf circuit.  Then one tiny post on the Internet causes all of those troubles to return . . . with a vengeance.

Becky Flowers has worked hard to build her successful senior relocation business, but she’s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him when he returns—until his family hires her to save his parents.

Now Reed and Becky can’t avoid one another—or the memories of that one fateful night.  And soon everything they thought they knew about themselves (and each other) has been turned upside down, and they—and the entire town of Bloomville—might never be the same, all because The Boy Is Back. 

Seriously, doesn't THE BOY IS BACK sound fun? I trust Cabot to make a romantic cliche shine.

October 6, 2016

Review: The Bitch is Back

The Bitch is Back Older, Wiser, and (Getting) Happier
Sequel to The Bitch in the House
Edited by Cathi Hanauer
Available now from William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Review copy

THE BITCH IS BACK is a collection of twenty-six essays by women in their forties, fifties, and sixties. Many of those women first contributed essays to THE BITCH IN THE HOUSE back in 2002, although some of the contributors are new.

I have not read THE BITCH IN THE HOUSE, but was still attracted to THE BITCH IS BACK due to the promise of stories about real, older women. When there is a repeat contributor, her essay is prefaced by a short explanation of her previous essay and how the two connect. I don't feel that I was missing context, but I do want to read THE BITCH IN THE HOUSE, which is noted multiple times to be the angrier of the two anthologies.

There is no overarching theme to the essays, although they're roughly arranged into four groups (midlife crisis, sex, rocky marriages, starting over). Each one is a personal essay that tackles what the author wants to say about her life and her choices. The contributors all have strong voices, although some of them have stories we've heard before.

Part of the reason there is no overarching theme is because editor Cathi Hanauer solicited  stories from a range of women. Jennifer Finney Boylan is a transgender woman, who writes about maintaining her relationship with her wife through her transition. Kathy Thomas is poor, her life of hard blue collar work a sharp contrast to some of the more privileged contributors. Veronica Chambers is black Latina, and writes about how her relationship with religion isn't traditional but still conflicts with her husband's atheism.

What I appreciate about this anthology is that it not only shows how many ways there are to be a woman, but that life continues. Most of these women have been through terrible things, including divorce, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, but they're still living and breathing and doing.

I wouldn't read all of THE BITCH IS BACK at once, because the essays can get monotonous. But it is nice to dole out these women's stories, because they've been through interesting times.

September 27, 2016

Review: Sunset in Central Park

Sunset in Central Park Second in the From Manhattan with Love series
By Sarah Morgan
Available now from HQN (Harlequin)
Review copy

I felt that SLEEPLESS IN MANHATTAN (my review) was charming, but spent too much time setting up the other two romances in the From Manhattan with Love series. Luckily, SUNSET IN CENTRAL PARK keeps the focus on Frankie and Matt.

Paige and Eva, Frankie's best friends, don't lack romance entirely. Eva's prospective hero is mentioned once at the beginning of the book, and then she shows up only in a friend capacity, both offering support and needing it. Jake and Paige's relationship is referenced, but Jake only shows up briefly, mostly to serve as Matt's best friend.

Matt has been in love with Frankie for a long time, but Frankie doesn't believe in love and is reluctant to trust any romantic partners. Her father cheated on her mom, her mom decided to continually pursue men, and there was an attempted sexual assault. Frankie's issues did not come out of nowhere. But when Matt's flirting gets blatant enough, Frankie realizes that she wants to respond, even if she has no clue how.

SUNSET IN CENTRAL PARK is really Frankie's story. Matt is cute and wonderful, but the focus has to be on Frankie since she's the one keeping them apart. Matt is all in from the beginning. (A bit too all in for my taste, at times. Let a girl decide to date you on her own!) I did like that as Frankie confronted her past, she realized that some things were as bad as she remembered, but that she'd inflated other things in her mind because she'd been a hurting teen girl.

The bright purple cartoons and hearts cover promises a light read, but Sarah Morgan has served up a cute romance surrounded by darkness. There's also a significant subplot about a woman escaping her abusive ex. It's not a difficult read, but I suspect Eva's story will be the most bubbly and effervescent in the series. Frankie has too many sharp edges for a romance that is smooth summer sailing.

I thought SUNSET IN CENTRAL PARK improved on SLEEPLESS IN MANHATTAN and I look forward to Eva's romance to conclude the series.

September 26, 2016

Movie Monday: Morgan

Morgan is the first film directed by Luke Scott, the son of legendary director Ridley Scott. It is a science-fiction thriller, much like his father is known for. It isn't devoid of style, but it felt very direct. What symbolism is present on-screen served only to make the final turn the story takes obvious. But while Morgan isn't the introduction of a brilliant new voice, it is a solidly entertaining flick.

Anna Taylor-Joy stars as the eponymous character opposite Kate Mara as Lee Weathers, a risk-management consultant. Anna Taylor-Joy gave a knockout performance that made it clear she's a future star in The Witch. Morgan is a more closed off character, tasked with being magnetic and childlike and inhuman and creepy and feminine yet androgynous. It's a lot to try to convey through a character whose emotions are internalized until they explode. I definitely think Taylor-Joy seemed to have more fun when Morgan was out of control.

Mara, however, is entirely fantastic as the cold, professional Lee. Most of the other characters resent her for encroaching on their project, which is now in jeopardy. Morgan, an artificial human, is a potential product line for the company. But she's attacked one of her handlers (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and now the company must assess whether she's viable or not. Lee hasn't raised Morgan, and seems disturbed by how the researchers have humanized her. Meanwhile, it seems disturbing to the viewer how easily Lee can dehumanizing something that looks human and appears to have human reactions.

The cast is a parade of familiar faces for science fiction fans, including Rose Leslie, Toby Jones, Michelle Yeoh, and Brian Cox, among others. It's a small cast, but everyone does good work. You can feel how fervently most of them care for Morgan, while only a few have held themselves objective enough to see Morgan's bursts of temper as a very bad sign.

The story won't surprise any long-time science fiction fans. Morgan doesn't bring much to meditations of what does or doesn't make us human. But it offers some well-choreographed mayhem and more than a few powerful performances, which is enough for me. It's a fun way to take a break on a hot summer afternoon.

(I know it is officially fall, but it still feels like summer where I am.)


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