Monday, June 1, 2020

Lady Luck Senior Project Update, & Dealing with Allergies (AKA, Life Update)

Welcome back to the Tramway!

Happy June 1st everyone!! I hope that you're all doing well, and that if you are hurting, that you can find some peace and healing. There's obviously a lot going on right now, and there's a lot of hurt. I hope that you can find a little break from life by reading this post. (#BlackLivesMatter still btw)

First, an update on my Senior Project.

Lady Luck Senior Project Update


Lady Luck (comics) - Wikipedia

Image Credit: Art by Klaus Nordling. By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4326710

So last week I met with my advisor to discuss what I wanted to do for my final project. If you've been following my blog for some time, you will know that I have been working on a retelling of forgotten Golden Age character Lady Luck. (Link here for my character history post if you want to learn more, though please note it's an older one, and may not be up to my current blog standards). 

I'm not going to lie, I was a bit nervous that the project would be too long to take on. Given that we're living through a pandemic, I didn't want to stress out my advisor or the student writing board (who will help me edit, plan and ultimately decided whether to green light it or not).

But enough dread, good news!! My advisor gave me the green light, The Iluckstrious Adventures of Lady Luck, Volume 1 "The Monorail Conspiracy" (or whatever the title ends up being) is a go! 

I was pleased to hear the news, and that she feels it will be a good way for me to end my college career. I've begun work on the second draft. Draft 2 has mostly included copying and pasting, then editing down chapters word length, trimming unnecessary scenes, adding a few lines, and noting spots that will need more research. 

My goal is to keep the book to 10 chapters, and around 100 pages. The shorter the book is, the cheaper it will be to publish/make the actual book. I have some crazy ideas for marketing on campus, but only time will tell if those come to fruition. For now, I'm going to focus on Draft 2. 

I've taken a bit of a break this weekend from Lady Luck and worked on another book project, with my oldest character Johnny. I'm making good progress on that project as well, though it's just a first draft. For now, Johnny and Friends is on the back burner.

All right, onto the next "segment."

Allergies (Life Update)

Have I written about this before? I'm getting a strong sense of dejavu, such as my Patrick Hates Clay Dust "rant" from last summer. Moving on.

So this weekend my allergies decided to kick in, real hard. My nasal allergy spray has lost effect on my allergies, and I've been sneezing my head off since Sunday. Thankfully, my family has another allergy medicine in stock, so I'm using that instead. Thank goodness for 24 hour allergy medicine, and one I don't have to snort up my nose. (Though I will miss the snorting my drugs jokes I've been making). 

If you suffer from allergies, you have my empathy. I know your struggle. And if you don't have allergies, good for you. Feel lucky, because you are.

All right, enough kidding around. I'm doing okay, all things considered. My allergies are under control, though my nose is congested. And real talk, there's much more serious things going on in the world, so thank you for indulging in my silly allergy "rant."

Well folks, I'm going to keep this post short, and maybe go relax a little bit. Thank you all for reading, I appreciate you giving me some of your time. If you want to interact, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and also Goodreads. (I've had it for a while, but haven't really been advertising it. So if you want to discuss books, send me a friend request, and let me know you came from here, so I don't think you're a rando). 

Thanks again everyone, and I'll see you on the Tramway!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Batwoman: The History, Legacy & All the Knockoffs

Disclaimer: Hey folks, Blogger is updating their format, so if any elements seem wonky, I apologize. I'm still trying to adjust to the new format, which I'm liking, though missing tools like the emojis. Please bare with me during this time of transition. Thank you, now back to your daily scheduled blog post.

Welcome back to the Tramway!

And welcome back to another Character History post, where I talk about the history of characters, usually from comic books.

Today, I break the trend of covering golden age/public domain characters and discuss a larger, mainstream character. We're digging into the history of Batwoman, from her bonkers real life origin and the knock offs. Trust me, it's gonna get weird! I wanted to talk about Batwoman because I recently became a fan through the CW TV show, and I decided to investigate her history.

Batwoman (Kate Kane).png
Detective Comics #860 textless cover. Image Credit: DC, used under the Wikipedia Creative Commons Share Alike License. Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22388623


With the news that Ruby Rose is leaving the show (that makes me the big sad) I wanted to discuss the history of the character, and now seemed like an appropriate time.

But before we do that, let's discuss mainstream Batwoman's origins.

DC Batwoman: Origins


Pre-Crisis Batwoman Image Credit: DC, Comic Vine

Now, if you're familiar with Batwoman from the CW show, than you're going to be really confused by the picture above. Whose this weird, yellow Batwoman? Brace yourselves....

Batwoman, alias Kathy Kane, first appeared in Detective Comics No. 233, published in 1956. She was created by Bob Kane (co-creator of Batman) and Sheldon Moldoff, according to Comic Vine. Before we get into the reason she was invented, let's discuss who she is as a character.

Kathy Kane was basically Robin and Batman's origins rolled into one character. She worked at a circus, was the heir to a wealthy family, and was inspired by Batman. She decided to become Batwoman, though Batman was not impressed, because he feared for her safety. (You gotta love the 50's). However, Kathy persevered, and eventually became accepted by the Cape Crusader. Her niece, Betty Kane, found out about her secret, and became the first comic Bat Girl. That's right, Barbara Gordon is NOT the first Bat Girl.

And even then, Batwoman (who let me remind you, was discouraged from being Batwoman) tries to discourage her! How do you spell double standards? I mean, she is pretty young, but also... Batman has Robin. You know, once you start trying to bring logic to comics, it starts to fall apart.

The original Batwoman and Bat Girl. Image Credit: DC Wiki. https://dc.fandom.com/wiki/Katherine_Kane_(Earth-One)

The introduction of Batwoman and Bat Girl would begin to expand the dynamic duo into what would become known as the Bat family. More characters were added, and still are to this day.

Kathy Kane Batwoman with the Bat Family. Image Credit: DC Wiki.
https://dc.fandom.com/wiki/Katherine_Kane_(Earth-One)

However, there were more sinister (or dare I say, stupid) reasons behind Batwoman's creation. According to History.com, Batwoman was created by DC for a very specific reason. It wasn't, as you might suspect, to protect the copyright and ensure no one created a Batwoman character before DC could.

The reason? They were afraid people would say Batman and Robin were gay.

And no, I am NOT making this up.

The "fear" of Batman being percieved as gay came from the book Seduction of the Innocent, written in 1954 by German psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, according to History.com. Wertham is known as the boogey man of comics. Because of Dr. Wertham, comics had to self censor themselves with the Comics Code Authority, due to the unfair and idiotic accusations that comics were making kids criminals and were destroying their spiritual health.

Dr. Wertham is proof that old white men don't understand popular culture, and shouldn't try and censor what they don't understand. Especially when, like Wertham, you base your claims on inaccurate research. But let's get back to Batwoman.

To make Batman "safe," DC had to create a female love interest for him and Robin, hence why we have Batwoman. Overtime, when the power of the Comics Code Authority became more relaxed, the need for Batwoman decreased. So what do you do with a character you don't need? Have them retire happily? Make them a supporting character? No of course not, you kill them!

Batwoman was killed in 1979, and stayed dead after DC's reboot known as Crisis on Infinite Earth. Her death was apparently done by the League of Assassins according to DC Wiki, though Comic Vine states it was by Bronze Tiger. Comics continuity is very confusing.

I don't have any nostalgia for for Kathy Kane Batwoman, but her murder doesn't sit well with me. In particular how the DC Wiki says that Batman was motivated to avenge her death. This means that Kathy was fridged, a term created by comics writer Gail Simone. Essentially, the term (in reference to a Green Lantern comic, where a female love interest is murdered and stuffed in a fridge) means a female character is wounded or killed to motivate a male character.

Kathy Kane Batwoman would stay dead for over 30 years in comics, which, given how much characters are brought back to life, is pretty impressive. However, when she was rebooted for modern day comics, she was reinvented in a much more imaginative way, and one that would make Dr. Wertham spin in his grave.

DC Batwoman: Reboot/Modern 


Kate Kane would be the next Batwoman to grace the pages of comics. As you do with a reboot, her origin was changed from Kathy's.

Kate, who is Jewish, grew up as a military brat, according to Comic Vine. And she had a sister, Beth. On their 12th birthday, their car was crashed by terrorists, the Kanes were kidnapped. Kate's dad launched a rescue for them, but the mission ended in a near failure, their mother was dead, and Beth was (assumedly) dead, parodying Batman's origin, though making it her own.

Kate followed in her father's footsteps and joined the army, quickly climbing up the ranks. However, her career was cut short when she was accused of homosexuality.

Which was true. Yes, that's right. Batwoman, the character created to ward off fears of a gay Batman, became an open lesbian superhero. Cop that Wertham!

Kate had to resign, and this led her into a depression. To keep this post from being too long, I'm going to skip the crazier parts of her origin, and get to the meat of the story. After getting saved by Batman, Kate took inspiration from him, similar to her Pre-Crisis predecessor, and thus Batwoman was born. Kate became apart of the Bat Family over time, which is funny, because she is also Bruce Wayne (Batman)'s cousin.

Kate Kane Batwoman was created by several comics alum: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, and Ken Lashley. In short: the rebooted Batwoman was in good hands.

Batwoman's redesigned costume is, in my opinion, a LOT better than the original yellow costume. The new Batwoman costume is an all black suit with a red bat logo, with Kate also wearing a bright red wig. Another interesting difference (at least in some comics/cartoons) is that Batwoman carries a gun, but she doesn't kill, following Batman's code.

Batwoman #1 Cover. Image Credit: DC, By Source, Fair use, 

Now, to avoid spoilers for the CW show, I'm not going to go into the rest of the details of who Batwoman fights. If you are familiar with the show, you will know her main villain is Alice, who is a leader (in the comics) of a cult, whereas in the show its the Wonderland Gang. 

I'll offer my thoughts on the CW show at the end, for now, I want to discuss the knockoff Batwomen. And if you thought her real life creation origin was weird, get ready to continue down the rabbit hole of madness.

Batwoman Knockoffs


Whenever one has success, there's likely to be knockoffs that come along. And this' true for Batwoman. 

The first was the Wild World of Batwoman, "created" by Producer/Director Jerry Warren, according to Dark Corners Reviews. The Wild World of Batwoman was made in response to the popularity of the Batman 66 show, which ironically did not have a Batwoman (But it did have Bat Girl).

Batwoman, with a group of "special" agents, who are referred to as Bat Girl (insert number here), fight crime.... kind of. It's just trash. Katherine Victor, who plays Batwoman, had to make the costume herself, and it's not very good. She literally has a bat symbol over her cleavage painted with mascara. I don't recommend you try and hunt down the film, but I do recommend Dark Corner's review of it. He really points out the clanky, silly parts, and it's a really fun video. You can find the video here.

The second Bat-knockoff came in 1968 (and probably inspired by the Batman 66 series again) is.... Mexican Batwoman. Yep, you read that right.

The official title is The Batwoman, though it is often referred to as (officially and unofficially) The Mexican Batwoman. And if you thought the first Batwoman-knockoff's costume was bad, well... take a look at the poster below.

m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BODJiMjM3YTEtZDk...
The Batwoman (1968) Poster. Image Credit: IMDB, www.imdb.com/title/tt0235608 

Yeah... it's not great. Yet somehow not as bad as that yellow original costume.

The plot for Mexican Batwoman is sillier than the previous knockoff. Here, Batwoman is called in to investigate the murder of several wrestlers. And unlike the Batfamily, Mexican Batwoman is willing to shoot anyone who gets in her way, according to BlameitonJorge.

I learned about Mexican Batwoman from BlameitonJorge, and I recommend you check out his channel. Unfortunately, he removed the video from his channel, but you can find it on Rob's Media Archive. I don't normally recommend watching reuploaded videos, but Jorge (as far as I know) hasn't stated anything about it, and it hasn't been taken down. Which makes sense, given Jorge's channel revolves partly around lost media, it seems fitting that it's been saved on another channel. You can find the video here.

That's all of the Batwoman knockoffs I could find, but I'm sure that there's more out there. If you know of any, let me know, and I might update the post.

All right, now for my final thoughts (and thoughts on the CW Show)

CW Show/Final Thoughts


I was introduced to Batwoman through the CW series, and I've fallen in love with the character through it. Ruby Rose as Batwoman is really fun to watch on screen, and I enjoy her cast of supporting characters. They have a lot of fun moments and their own motivations that make them compelling. Unfortunately, the season was cut short due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. I haven't seen the finale yet, because it has a crossover with Supergirl and I need to catch up on the latter show. 

The show starts off pretty slow, so if you're planning to watch it, be prepared to possibly slog through some episodes. The show picks up when she gets the full costume. Alice is a fun villain, who you sympathize with as the show reveals what happened to her, but you also realize that she needs to be stopped.

I'm really sad to see Ruby Rose go. I feel that she really looks like the character, and played the part with passion. I also hope that her reasons for leaving weren't due to the harassment she faced online when taking the role. I believe that she had an accident on set, which was the reason given. In any case, thank you for a great season Ms. Rose, and best of luck with your future projects. You'll always be Batwoman to me.

Overall, Batwoman is an interesting character. Starting off as way to ward off fears of a gay Batman, she was transformed into a symbol for representation. And that seems like a fitting fate for the character. (again, cop that Wertham!!) She's much more successful now, and doesn't appear to be going anywhere. With the popularity of superhero films, maybe we'll see her make a cinematic appearance. But that probably won't happen until Warner Bros. gets Batman re

I recommend you check out Batwoman (the official Batwoman, not the knockoffs) in any form. If you want a good jumping in point, I recommend Batman: Bad Blood, though that film has previous continuity from previous films. I'm not as familiar with her comics as I'd like to be (breaking into comics is unfortunately still hard, especially if you're on a budget) but if you can find a collection of her comics for a good price, consider checking her out, and maybe support a local comic book store. Like regular book stores, they're really struggling during these hard times.

All right, who wants some Fun Facts?

Fun Facts


Kate Kane Batwoman's first animated appearance was in the movie Batman: Bad Blood, as part of the current series of DC's Direct to DVD Universe, according to Comic Vine. However, it was not the first time a Batwoman appeared in an animated form.

In the DC Animated Universe (DCAU for short), Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, released in 2003, we see a similar looking Batwoman to Kate's but with a silver costume. That Batwoman (no spoilers) was a one off, which is really sad. I wonder if we'll ever get a Batwoman The Animated Series. I'd watch that. 

A Batwoman stand in, based on the original, appeared in the show Batman the Brave and the Bold.

Kate Kane's last name is a homage to Batman Co-creator Bob Kane. (Look, I had to fill the quota for fun facts, okay? Sue me XD )

Kathy Kane Batwoman returned to canon in the book Batman, Unlimited. I haven't read it yet, so I can't offer any thoughts on it, but it's fun to see her return. I personally think having her in the same universe as her successor could be weird. In my opinion, it would've made more sense to put her on a different Earth in a different universe. 

The Batgirl we all know and love, Barbara Gordon, actually appeared in the Batman 66 series first. 

Batwoman's first appearance on the CW was in the crossover series Elseworlds, which the first season of the show flash forwarded to. 

Thanks for reading this week's post. Have you seen Batwoman in any media form? What're your thoughts on the character? Let me know on Blogger, Facebook, or Twitter. If you enjoyed this character history post, please consider sharing it on your preferred social media(s), so we can build the Tug & Tram Community. Thanks, and I'll see you on the Tramway!

Sources:

"Batwoman." DC Wiki. https://dc.fandom.com/wiki/Katherine_Kane_(Earth-One)

BlameitonJorge. "8 Bootleg Superhero Movies." 

     www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuPcfGWm8fk&t=353s

Ciampagla, Dante A. "Fear of a Gay Batman Brought Batwoman to Life." History.com 16 August,      
     2018. Updated 12 June, 2019. www.history.com/news/gay-batman-fears-batwoman 

Dark Corner Reviews. "The Wild World of Batwoman." 27 January, 2020. 

"Kathy Kane." Comic Vine. https://comicvine.gamespot.com/kathy-kane/4005-81174/

Friday, May 22, 2020

Tramway Reviews #1: The Clara Grey Adventures/Van Helsing Series #ReviewMay

Welcome to the Tramway,

and welcome to the first of what might be a series, Tramway Reviews, where I review books. Now, for followers who are familiar with my blog, this may seem similar to Pat Pitches, which I have done a few posts of. However, for Tramway Reviews I want to give a more in depth look and do more analysis than I do on Pat Pitches. Plus, I might turn Pat Pitches into a non-book series of me pitching media, such as films or podcasts, etc.

Another part of my motivation is the launch of the hashtag #ReviewMay. You can find the original tweet about it by Ahmed G here. In summary, #ReviewMay is a way to give Indie Authors a spotlight for their books to help boost reviews, which can help authors on websites such as Amazon get seen by potential buyers/readers.

So, confession time... I haven't read a lot of Indie books myself. I think my current count is 4? Most of the Indie Books I read have been free, though I have tried to give them shout outs here on the blog. (For a few others, please refer to my Quarantine Reading post from last month).

Today, I want to dive into two of the books that have really clicked with me. Those are The Van Helsing Paradox and The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres, both are part of the Clara Grey Adventures series. But first, let's discuss the author.

A quick disclaimer before we do: There will be spoilers for both books in my review. Please read at your own discretion, I will try to keep them from being too major.

Second Disclaimer: Some of the content in the books could possibly be triggering, in particular for assault. While I feel Book 1 doesn't cross that line, Book 2 has a scene readers might want to skip if certain content is upsetting/triggering. I will get to that later.

Author: Evelyn Chartres

Evelyn Chartres is the nom de plume (pen name) of a Canadian author from Ontario. Ms. Chartres has self-published four Gothic Fantasy novels, according to her about page. When she's not writing Gothic stories, you can find her on Twitter @EvelynChartres and on her website with blog posts, excerpts, and recipes, http://evelynchartres.com.

Ms. Chartes' first book was The Portrait, followed by The Grand, with a short story in anthology From Ashes to Magic Book 1, and then, the first book we will be talking about...

Image Credit & © Evelyn Chartres. Used under Fair Use.
Book 1 "The Van Helsing Paradox"

Before we move onto Book 1 of Clara's adventures, a bit more context. According to Ms. Chartes in an interview on Hidden Gems, Clara actually began as a character in the Anthology book The Grand. However, Ms. Chartres decided to expand the character more. Now, I don't want to steal from another writer's post, so if you want to know why Ms. Chartres decided to expand Clara's story, I recommend you read her interview here.

All right, what is the book about? (That's as good as any spot to start, right? 😜) In all seriousness, The Van Helsing/Clara Grey Adventures series is about Clara, a member of a secret organization tasked with protecting the world from monsters who prey upon the innocent. For a pop culture reference, think Hellboy, but set in a different time. And instead of having a red demon, we have flapper Clara Grey.

Clara is not, however, born in the 1920's. She's born a few decades beforehand, and the story progresses towards then, when she becomes an adult. After her parents are murdered by monstrous creatures, Clara is sent to The Tower, a secret religious organization that trains children with special skills (such as Clara) to become Hunters, exterminators of supernatural monsters.

What I really love about Ms. Chartres' writing is how she balances character moments, action and gore, with some intimate scenes thrown in for good measure. We are talking about adults after all. In one story, readers will find horror blended in with fun character interactions and some action put in for good measure.

The first book really reads like an anthology of stories from Clara's adventures tied together, which I really like. You see her as a child, innocent, not fully aware of how the world is, and watch as she becomes an adult, and really shifts into the life of a Hunter. In one story (again, Spoilers) you may find Clara in Paris, in the next her working during the First World War, or going full Lara Croft in the desert.

Clara is described as an attractive woman, but she's more than her looks. Indeed, Clara's physique is merely one of the tools used to make her prey feel safer than they should. And shortly afterwards they will likely find themselves killed.

I really like Clara as a protagonist. It would've been easy to make her very stoic and not want to actually travel around. But Clara seems like she's having the time of her life! She enjoys her life style and the purpose it gives her. Possibly also the thrill of the hunt and a good fight.

Another pop culture reference that comes to mind for a comparison is James Bond, which I feel is appropriate. Clara often has to go undercover to find her prey. As mentioned earlier, Clara travels around a lot during her adventures, which I really enjoy. We don't get to it at first when she's a child (because, for obvious reasons, she's a child) though she does leave her childhood home and goes to the school/The Tower.

Going back to my earlier point about Ms. Chartres' skill of character moments, the minor/supporting characters are also enjoyable. The Mother Superior, Clara's boss, act as a bit of a Obi-Wan character for Clara, though she lets Clara roam around, and doesn't try to force her to conform, which I thought was refreshing. We also have Edith, Clara's friend, partner, and (lover?)

One thing I wish we got more of in Book 1 was stories of Clara and Edith working together. We do get them, so that's enough to make me feel content. I wouldn't mind a midquel of short standalone stories, though I usually prefer stories to keep moving forward. In any case, I'm certainly not going to demand it of the author. (However, if you read this Ms. Chartres know I'll be the first to read that book 😛).

Jokes aside, Clara and the other characters she interacts with feel like real people, which works in the book's advantage. Even the villains, who in Paradox mostly consist of vampires, feel like real people. Our main villain is Drusilla, an ancient vampire who has lived so long she can avoid the natural weaknesses of vampires, such as standing on holy ground. We only get snippets of her throughout The Van Helsing Paradox, but you see the damage that follows her lifestyle, and the plans she implements. It's quite possible, though not stated, that Drusilla caused World War 1. (Which is hinted at in Book 2, though not explicitly).

A minor villain, who is set up for the sequel is Evelyn (who isn't an author stand in, so don't let the shared names distract you). Evelyn and Clara meet in one story, and have some tension of varying degrees, which puts Clara to the test, and sets up a plot point for Book 2.

As the first book progresses, things go from chaotic, to worse. The Tower is attacked, and the organization cuts itself off from the world. Stranded on her own, Clara must find out who nearly destroyed her organization and faces Drusilla in a final standoff to avenge her friend Edith, which ties together the book The Grand with (The Van Helsing Universe? I don't think there's a name for the shared stories. Chartres Bookamatic Universe? Yeah, we'll go with that).

Now, because I'm about to talk about the ending, I will give another spoiler disclaimer.

Clara goes to kill Drusilla, knowing that the mission is one she will likely not return from. Clara prepares to kill Drusilla and herself, but a supernatural "intervention" (more like an interrruption) comes in the form of Goddess Hectate, who tempts Clara with immortality. However, Clara uses Hectate as the weapon to finally kill Drusilla, saving the world from a serious threat, but giving up her life.

What comes next is, if I had to pick a section, the weakest part of the book, where Clara wakes up and we go into the "It was all a dream trope," my least favourite trope. Clara is in a hospital, and we're led to believe for a bit "Was Clara mad the whole time?" If that was the book's final twist, I would've been mightily disappointed.

Thankfully, Ms. Chartres had my trust by that point, so I continued, and read a pleasant subversion of that trope. Evelyn enters heaven, which wasn't how she imagined. Again, not going to go into too much detail, but let me just say it's similar to the Percy Jackson series.

The end of Book 1 gives us a epilogue to set up the next book, and shows that not even death can keep Clara from fighting evil. Now an agent of heaven, Clara is sent back to Earth to combat a world shattering event, which leads us to...


Image Credit & © Evelyn Chartres. Used under Fair Use.
Book 2 The Van Helsing Resurgance

All right, since I described Book 2, talking about the sequel is going to include more spoilers. If you haven't read Book 1, go read book 1 and, if you're interested, come back here.

Book 2 is different enough from book 1 that it doesn't feel like a retread, but still has the elements you love. However, be prepared to be confused, because this book is very confusing at first. Bare in mind, that is 100% intentional.

The plot is kicked off by a group of the Georgians, who we saw in book one, though I haven't talked about them. In Book 1, they act as weapons salesman for both sides, supplying advanced weapons and technology for the Towers'. They're developed more in Book 2, which expands the world of Clara Grey but also leaves me with more questions. I feel like a book could be written devoted just to the Georgians.

Because of their advanced technology, the Georgians unintentionally wreak havoc on not just earth, but the effects are also felt in heaven. What ultimately came to mind (and again, spoilers) was the below MST3K quote:


Now, here's where things get... confusing. Clara, as we saw in the end of Book 1, is sent down to heaven to find the source of the anomaly. But another character is also sent down, which leads both into a confrontation of misunderstanding.

As I continue, I have to go into more spoiler territory, so again, leave and go read the book before proceeding.







Welcome back, or hello if you've decided to keep reading and ignore my spoiler warnings. At this point, I claim no responsibility. Enter at your own risk. 😋

All right, enough kidding around. Let's get to the actual main plot point. The Georgians use technology to try and impact the decisions of people to their advantage. However, what they accidentally do instead is merge different possible timelines together, wreaking havoc on the world, which Ms. Chartres explores throughout the book. People who died live again, without knowledge of their deaths, buildings that were torn down are merged into those they replaced, and one very tragic plot point that I don't want to spoil here.

Ms. Chartres doesn't waste any time letting Clara get back to being a badass, when she takes on... biker werewolves. I love this series. I believe Clara's first fight, once she returns, is setting up an antagonist for the next book, which Ms. Chartres seems to do in her books, though that might be a coincidence.

Similar to The Van Helsing Paradox, Resurgence provides the reader with several background/supporting characters. We have Victoria, a victim of Evelyn, and her story is truly tragic. I won't get into it, but I will say we see her struggling to get to safety, and the twist of her fate is quite a shock in my humble opinion. Other readers may have seen it coming, but I was thrown off guard.

Clara is, given the time jump that the first book's ending established, a fish out of water. She gets help from unexpected ally Elizabeth, whose trying to find her friend Victoria. And Evelyn falls into the mix for her own interests coincide with Clara's mission.

I really like Clara and Elizabeth's chemistry, they really bounce off each other well and help educate the other on matters they are experts on (in Clara's case monsters, and Elizabeth the modern day).

As a fan of Captain America and the fish out of water trope, I really enjoyed Resurgence. However, if you aren't a fan of that trope, I'm not sure if you will enjoy it as much. That does not mean I don't recommend the book, on the contrary, Resurgence is as enjoyable as Paradox. Clara spends most of the story getting readjusted to the modern day, and handling past promises.

One complaint that could be held for book two is that, by the end, Clara does not actually end the Georgian threat. I think it works, because Clara has still done a lot in the book, and I feel that with what's set up for her will pay off once the third book comes out.

Before I offer my concluding thoughts, I need to re-emphasize the disclaimer of some scenes being potentially triggers. The main chapter in Resurgence that is potentially bad is All's Fair in Love and War. (Again, going into Spoilers) Evelyn gets information from one of the Georgians through sex, then kills the Georgian through vigorous sex, which was very hard to read, though I have not experienced that would cause it to be triggering.

To add more context, the death is in character with Evelyn, she's like the secondary bad guy from James Bond's Goldeneye. Again, I trust Ms. Chartres, so I don't feel the scene crosses a line. However, that may be a personal opinion, and I advise readers to use their judgment regarding that chapter.

Now, to not end on a bad note, I want to talk about my thoughts overall on the series.

Overall Thoughts

I love these books. The world building makes you really feel like you can see the world and where Clara is travelling. There are also a variety of monsters to keep things fresh and entertaining for the reader. Clara and the other characters' motivations are clear and fun to follow. Clara in particular really holds the stories together. Her charisma and perky attitude make you instantly fall in love and want to cheer her on. She's not a perfect character, her quips can get her into trouble, but that's why you follow her story.

The third, and I believe final, book in Clara Grey's series hasn't come out yet. But rest assured, when it comes out, I will be sure to give it a read. And I recommend that you read the first two books of the, hopefully soon to be completed, trilogy.

You can find both books for free online officially, though if you want, you can find both books on Amazon as print copies. Links are available on Ms. Chartres' website above.

Have you read The Clara Grey Adventures? What're your thoughts? Or, what's a character you fell in love with? Do you want to see more Tramway Reviews? Let me know in the comments on here, Twitter, or Facebook. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you on the Tramway!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Tramway May 2020 Update (Senior Project & The Blogs)

Welcome back to the Tramway!

Well it's certainly been a while, hasn't it? I hope you're all doing well during the lock down/Pandemic times we are living in. As I mentioned in my last post, I had May Term (which's my college's optional mini-semester at the end of the year), which today I finished, and I'm quite glad for that.

I was really struggling with my May Term class' workload, and I was feeling very burnt out due to a lot of personal stress. (Which's not a complaint against my Professor, mind you, that was what I was struggling with). I don't want to get into that too much, though I will say I am doing a lot better and have successfully gotten my work done.

To ease my workload, I didn't do any fun writing that was for the best, to give myself a break. Obviously, that includes here, I think it's almost been a month since my last post? Hold that thought.


Yeah, it's 4 days short of a month since my last post. (Did I write this just to use the above video joke? Yes)

All right, in all seriousness, it's nice to be back to the blog here. So as the title shows, I'd like to give some updates on my Senior Writing Project and my two blogs, the second being The Occasional Express, in case you forgot/don't know.

Senior Writing Project

On Friday I am planning to have a meeting with my Advisor about my senior writing project via Zoom. To say I'm nervous is... inaccurate? I haven't really thought about our meeting a lot yet, because I still had a big project to finish for my May Term class, that I have finished. Now that I have time (and have let my brain relax) I should plan out a bit what I'm supposed to say. I'm not really sure what to expect from the meeting because it's the first I've done for my project.

As I have talked about in the past, my current plan is a retelling/re-imagining of golden age character Lady Luck in novel form, unlike most of the senior projects at my school that're usually poem/short story collections.

I'm not sure what's going to happen, given that there's a lot of stress from the Pandemic, and we might not have enough time to edit the novel to get it ready for publication next school year, whatever form that may be.

I don't know how much I will be able to reveal about our meeting, though I am hopeful that I can continue pursuing the project. I feel proud of what I have done so far, and I would hate to abandon the project.

All right, onto the blogs.

Tug & Tram Blogging & The Occasional Express

I have several ideas for blog posts I would like to do, though when I will get to them I can't say at the moment. I do feel like I need to formulate a schedule for my blogs, which I have seen a lot of bloggers suggesting. The main reason I don't have a schedule is because I'm a college student, it's hard to keep a schedule for the blog, when I don't really know how much home I will have on say the weekends.

As for The Occasional Express, I'm not sure when I will get back to the train news posts. Given the hardship right now that organizations are facing, now doesn't seem like the time for a non-trained news source. However, that might change in the future. Only time will tell.

Getting back to the main blog here, I really want to do a history post for one of my favorite comic book characters, and I might try and participate in the new #MayReview (or is it ReviewMay?) that was started by members of the Writing Community. I have done posts similar to reviews with Pat Pitches, but if I do end up doing a review, I want it to be a bit more formal. In addition to that, I have to decide if I want to write reviews on here. If you're interested in seeing reviews, please let me know.

All right, that seems as good an ending point as any. How have you been holding up during the lock down? Have you spend more or less time on your projects. Feel free to let me know in the comments on here, Facebook or Twitter.

Thank you all for reading, and I'll see you on the Tramway!

Friday, April 24, 2020

End of Semester/Writing Update

Welcome back to the Tramway.

Well friends, the end of the semester has come once again. Albeit a little different this time, given the COVID-19 Pandemic and needing to stay at home. I hope you are all doing well and are staying healthy and safe.

Working on the final exams from home was definitely a different experience. A few of my exams were easier than I was expecting, and quite possibly easier than they would have been in person. (I would've preferred to do them in person, but given the circumstances, I can't complain). Surprisingly, I had some time during finals week to work on my writing again, which was a nice change of pace.

Classes don't start again until Monday for May Term, our mini semester to wrap off the year, so I have the weekend to relax and do some writing. So far during this stay at home time, I've finished two short stories (one that I turned out much longer than anticipated, and have began rewriting (for the final time) my first project.

The first project I finished is a retelling of the classic Knight vs a Dragon fairy tale, but with a few twists. It's one I have several drafts of since I wrote it my sophomore year of college. I'm still trying to work out the kinks with my ideas (the main problem being trying to describe some fantasy-technology and make the story work).

The second is a short story in a series I have planned, but haven't started yet, a sci-fi world where railroads race across the stars, inspired by the amazing anime series Galaxy Express 999 and Galaxy Railways. I was inspired by a story about train wreck songs to write a story about a wreck in space, which didn't turn out as I planned. I was planning to have a character die, but that seemed too obvious. Or maybe I'm just too kind to my characters. Then again, is having them nearly sucked into a black hole kind? 😜

Speaking of trains in space, do you remember when I talked about the Bethany Galactic Railway chronicles? Well... I decided to scrap that idea. The space part anyways. The idea of talking locomotives with faces in space didn't seem to click with me (if you want to use that, by all means, go for it, it's not mine to claim. There has been other series like that, See Galaxy Express 999 or Galaxy Railways).

As I've mentioned on Twitter, Johnny and the other characters who make up the story are some of my oldest characters. Since I decided to write in 5th or 6th Grade, I have been working on the project in some form. It's a story I want to finish, but I've struggled to do so.

As I explained when I've struggled with my overwriting/overthinking, I have in the past struggled to finish projects and continuously rewrote projects. And then, I saw this video a few weeks ago by Ellen Brock:


When I heard the section about writers who start projects but never finish, I thought "Crap, that's me!" I decided enough was enough, I was going to finish this draft. I wrote myself a simplified outline (based off mine using the Snowflake Outline Method, link here if interested) and have been working at it ever since.

So where am I currently? I finished Chapter 4, and am working on making my way through Chapter 5. Unfortunately Chapters 3, 4 and 5 in my outline would have been more condensed, but I had to spread them out a bit. I'm aiming for 12 pages per chapter, which I have stuck to so far (with maybe an extra page to finish a chapter well. I'll condense it in the edit).

All right, last writing update: I have continued working on The Occasional Express, my spin off blog for train related news and opinion pieces. The views fluctuate with the posts, same as here, but I'm all right with that. For a time during the stay at home/quarantine, I considered not writing any more posts. However, I'm going to stick with it, and see where it goes.

One thing that is consistent in my writing is that is has given me a bit of escapism from the stress of the news and just life recently. Being able to create has helped me feel like I have some normalcy as well. I hope you are finding the same in whatever you may be creating or doing to keep yourself mentally healthy.

That's all I have for this blog entry. For my writing friends, what have you been working on during these crazy times? And for my non writing friends, what have you been doing/working on?

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this blog post, please consider subscribing here on Blogger to keep updated. You can also find me on Facebook, and Twitter. Thank you, and I'll see you on the Tramway!