Royally screwed: Elizabeth I’s fictional diary

The Royal Diaries: Elizabeth I Red Rose of the House of Tudor by Kathryn Lasky

The Royal Diaries is a lengthy series of fictionalize accounts of real princesses written in the form of a diary. I have no idea why I picked this one particularly, although I do enjoy Tudor history, so I’m assuming that had something to do with it. I was not expecting great literature, just a piece of historical fiction written for girls, and in that, I was right. But it was still pretty good.

The story is of Princess Elizabeth, destined to become Queen Elizabeth I, near the end of her father, Henry VIII’S life. She starts writing in her diary because she’s lonely, exiled from court after she offends her father. The story follows her journey back to court, her relationship with her half siblings, Edward and Mary, some of her other friends, her relationship with her Catherine Parr and the other women she has called mother, and her own uncertain future, all the way through to the death of her father.

It wasn’t a masterpiece or anything. It was just a book for kids. A book meant to teach girls history in a sneaky way and to contextualize being a girl in a history that usually forgets them. This are good things, worth reading even if they aren’t staggering works of literature.

Two things that I thought were unusually nice about this book. One was the historical accuracy. This is not a Sexy-Tudor style depiction of the 1500s. Elizabeth regularly documents the way the court reeks from all the people and waste and rotting food in the castles, and they move to different courts regularly to escape the smell. She talks about the common diseases everyone catches and passes on, how rarely the she baths and how much she hates lice and fleas which infest every court. Spend time reading historical fiction and it’s easy to daydream about that time. Read this book and you’re so grateful you’re living now. Like, I can bath any time I want and I will never, ever stop being grateful for that.

I also enjoyed Elizabeth’s struggle to feel loved and accepted. Her father doesn’t have time for her particularly, with his coveted son and Mary, his oldest child – Elizabeth isn’t even the spare, she’s the daughter of the woman he executed for witchcraft.  By far the most intelligent of her siblings, she’s always striving for his love. Her newest mother Catherine Parr is invested in her future too and is the best mother she remembers, but even so, as Queen she’s busy and far away most of the time. Yet, Elizabeth’s loyalty to them both is absolute and all she wants is their love. You know, probably something a child from a broken home could really understand.

I’d recommend these books to kids with good reading skills, although there are some questions that might come up for older kids (Elizabeth mentions getting her period so ten bonus points for that, there’s a scandalous sexual affair that’s hinted at) but I think these are all good things.

Last movie I watched:

Milk. Everyone who gets confused about why Pride is a thing needs to watch that movie.

Last TV episode I watched:

Supernatural. This show used to be awesome. Now it’s just fun. But in a stupid way.

Value Village Comic Books

Superman 204 by Brain Azzarello, Jim Lee and Scott Williams

Rai and the Future Force 9 by Bob Layton, John Ostrander, Sean Chen and Kathryn Bolinger

Eternal Warrior 9 by Mark Moretti, John Dixon and Paul Autio

Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder 2 by Frank Miller, Jim Lee, Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair

Superman Action Comics 728 by David Michelinie, Tom Grummett and Denis Rodier

The Silver Surfer 85 by Ron Marz, Ernie Stiner, Tom Christopher, Hen Bruzenah, Renee Witterstaetter, Craig Anderson

This blog post is going to be lame. I’m just going to be upfront about that.

I read these comics weeks ago, but then I once again became an unemployed librarian (contract up, out of my home, squatting with friends, squatting and settling, driving places, sleeping on couches, job applications, interviews, etc) so blogging just didn’t happen. While I like to think I had some clever thoughts about these comics at the time I read them, I have no idea what they were.

This Superman was super broody as our hero confesses his guilt about how he can’t be everywhere for everyone. I guess broody Superman is a nice change, and as usually I love Jim Lee’s drawings. By far, my favourite part.

The Future Force I have no context for, at all but it seemed like a cool concept, even though I don’t understand what’s going on. Old school ethnically diverse cast. You know, in an awkward stereotype kinda way.

Eternal Warrior was like Highlander, but not as wonderful. Maybe it’s the cat people. Whatever. I actually would read this one for the story.

Batman and Robin I have conflicting feelings on. Jim Lee illustrations, so that’s a plus. I don’t know how I feel about Frank Miller’s Batman and Robin series. It’s Dick’s origin story but Bruce takes the “I’ll torture him” approach to shaping his sidekick. Which I don’t love. It felt too cruel, and maybe a little forced. Or at least, not in line with my Bruce Wayne. But that’s how comic books work right? Everyone gets to pick their own stories.

This Superman Action Comic was actually just an adventure of Manman, because Superman has no powers. It was fine, if a little plodding. It’s probably a better read if it’s read in it’s arch.

Silver Surfer featuring the Xmen? Whatever. Crossovers are all well and good, but I didn’t love it, probably because I was missing too much of the story.

So, now that I’m unemployed, I’m going to be blogging a lot more. Should be fun.

Last movie I watched:

Pitch Perfect 2! Not as good as the first one, but still pretty excellent!

Last TV episode I watched:

Game of Thrones. Rewatching, with people who haven’t seen it yet. THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT’S COMING.

Also I’m catching things I missed before. That’s cool.

Comic book binge is continuing

Batman: Bruce Wayne the Road Home by Fabian Nicieza, Cliff Richards, Ian Hannin, Dave Sharpe, Louis Prandi and a whole bunch other amazing people

This particular Batman was exactly what I love about Batman. Therefore I pretty much think it’s the best thing ever. I may not be correct, I am the first to admit I am not approaching this unbaised, but I thought it was awesome. Feel free to disagree.

Note: I will probably ignore anyone who disagrees.

So somehow Bruce has found his way back from his travels in time, only to find that life has continued on in his absence. Dick and Damian are making an epic Batman and Robin. Tim’s out in the world, making his own choices. Selena is, in her own Catwoman way, trying to be the best she can be. Oracle’s got everything under control. Even Jim Gordan’s managed to stay alive without him. Because life continues after death, as it has to all of the people Bruce loves and he’s forced to wonder where his place is, in this strange new world. He visits each member of the “family”, tests them and is pleased with their performance, if not completely sold on their choices, which reinforces his feelings of being out of place. But when Vicki Vale, his former lover FINALLY figures out the truth about the ever puzzling Batman/Bruce Wayne identity overlap and threatens to take it public, she triggers the kidnap urge in all the bad guys ever. So Bruce is forced to step back into the crime fighting game, and out of the, you know, trying to kill his family under an alias as part of an elaborate test game.

Man, DC you do know how to write a delightfully messed up family don’tcha?

I loved it because I like to see the whole family, and I found Bruce’s inner monologuing really interesting. Often the stories kind of generate conflict specifically to torture Bruce and spice up that inner monologuing. But this one felt good and natural and yeah, it must be really weird to die and then come back and see the way everyone just moved on without you and how do you step back into your old shoes when someone else is wearing them, almost better than you? Therefore complicated and emotional narrative, all my favourite characters and particularly kickass moment from Barbara when she realizes that this mysterious masked man is actually Bruce, you are going to make me into a gleeful, goofy nerd. That’s all there is to it.

Last movie I watched:

Pitch Perfect. Hilarious and musical, as always.

Last TV episode I watched:

Something about a house and redecorating it. Maybe Property Brothers. Unfortunately for both my current hosts and my significant other, I actually couldn’t care less about whether this family needs to expand their home or not, and nothing but deep affection for these people and an enjoyment of ripping into commercials makes me sit beside them quietly and fake watch any of it.

Comic book lapse

Robin: Violent Tendencies by Chuck Dixon, Chris Batista, Cam Smith and a bunch of talented pencillers, inkers, colourists and letters

It has been a very long time since I’ve read a superhero graphic novel. I miss them actually because I’m a huge nerd, but on the other hand, my year long audio book binge was pretty wonderful too. Apparently comics make bad audio books for some weird reason.

Anyway,  it was a really good ease in. This is a Tim Drake Robin story. I love all the Robins equally (obviously), but Tim Drake gets overlooked generally, because of his quiet awesomeness, so it was nice see him in top form. On top of that, this was a good story.

Robin strikes out on his own investigation after he runs into a mysterious, purple clad vigilante who is robbing criminals and reminds him just a little too much of Stephanie, his dead ex-girlfriend (and the only female Robin who’s brutal murder raised some pretty serious questions about DC and it’s handling of women) aka the Spoiler. Only (spoiler!) Stephanie isn’t dead (because DC comics) and before Tim knows it, he’s got two butt kicking ladies to keep track of.

The story is pretty solid, with Tim struggling to balance his personal life and regular school girlfriend with his crime fighting and his grief and guilt and affection for Steph, and she gets a good back story too. Bruce is hardly featured at all, which is kinda sad, but also helps the story to be a little lighter, more fun and gives Tim the chance to shine. Honestly, this one is an all around win.

Last movie I watched:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Actually, I fell asleep, but that’s not a reflection on the movie, it’s a reflection on my life.

Last TV episode I watched:

Big Bang Theory. Hahahaha. That is all I have to say about that.