Shell's guide to... Black Canary

The next instalment of my guides to. Previously: Catwoman and Batgirl.

1. Black Canary was one of DC Comics first female super heroes, first appearing in Flash comics #86 in 1947 as the alter ego of Dinah Drake.

2.  In that issues she appeared as a fishnet and leather jacket wearing villain who is later revealed to be infiltrating a criminal gang.

3. The following year she was given her own origin story which depicted her as a florist in love with police detective Larry Lance! She then joins the Justice Society of America and appears in All Star Comics as part of the team.

4. Black Canary was brought back again in the 1960s featuring in DC's parallel universe Earth-2. Married to Lance she takes part in team ups of the Justice Society with Earth-1's Justice League (JLA).

5. In a 1969 story Larry Lance is killed saving Dinah's life. Stricken with grief Dinah moves to Earth-1 and joins the Justice League. 

6. She begins a relationship with fellow JLA member Green Arrow. Around this time Dinah discovers her power: an ultrasonic scream known as the canary cry that is strong enough to cut through metal.

7. Throughout the 1970s Black Canary makes guest appearances in Batman and is a regular sidekick to Green Arrow in Action Comics.

8. In the early 1980's Dinah's backstory was further explained. It was pretty complicated and involved her and Lance having a daughter that got cursed and was suspended in animation. During the battle that kills Larry, Dinah gets radiation poisoning. As she is dying she asks to see her daughter one last time. Dinah wishes her daughter could take the mantle of Black Canary. Thanks to Superman and Thunderbolt, Dinah's memories are transferred to her daughter and she becomes the new Black Canary (and this was all just to explain why Dinah hadn't aged since her creation!)

9. In 1986 the previous back story was shelved and a new one was introduced. This time Dinah Laurel Lance simply inherits the Black Canary mantel from her mother Dinah Drake Lance.

10. In this version Dinah Drake becomes Black Canary after being trained to fight by her police detective father. She plans to follow him into the police force but gets turned down. Her father dies shortly after and she honours his memory by fighting crime as a vigilante.

11. She marries private eye Larry Lance and they have a daughter Dinah Laurel Lance. She is born with her own canary cry that she can control.

12. Dinah dreams of being a costumed hero like her parents and their JSA friends. With the help of certain JSA members she trains and builds her skills. Later she takes on the Black Canary name and joins the Justice League.

13. This is where she meets Oliver a.k.a Green Arrow. They begin a romantic relationship and eventually get married. Once her mother dies they leave the JLA and move to Seattle where they open a flower shop called Sherwood Florist (what a glorious pun!)

14. In the 1990s former Batgirl Barbara Gordon (now known as Oracle, see my guide to Batgirl!) decides to set up a covert mission team. Her first choice is Black Canary who she invites to be a part of the Birds of Prey.

15. Black Canary reinvents herself, dying her hair bleach blonde (it was a wig before ok!) and after a rocky start becomes close friends with Barbara. 

16. The Birds of Prey become a popular long running series making up sixteen books (TPB's) prior to the new 52 relaunch, and Canary fights alongside many members, but the core team usually consist of Oracle, Huntress and Black Canary. 

17. In 2007 Black Canary is given her own mini series in which her and Green Arrow join the Justice League and are tested by one of the founding members Batman.

18.  Later that year there are a number of tie ins leading to Dinah and Oliver's wedding, Including the Black Canary Wedding Planner, and Justice League Wedding Special. Bad luck for them the Injustice League plan to attack the wedding.

19. After the wedding a lot of shit goes down between Dinah and Ollie that includes Dina resigning as chairman of the JSA, Ollie dies and gets resurrected by villain Nekron, he regains control of his body but discoveres he has committed murder and goes on the run. Eventually he surrenders and goes to prison, where Dinah visits him. She realises he wants to be left alone, and leaves with her wedding ring abandoned. 

20. Dinah returns to Gotham and rejoins the Birds of Prey. She meets and eventually defeats her nemesis White Canary, a villainess who reveals Dinah's secret identity.

21. In 2011 DC comics reboot the DC universe with the New 52. In the new timeline Dinah Lance is the founding member of the Birds of Prey. In this timeline she was never married to Oliver, and she is a reserve member of the JLA.

22. During this reboot Dinah is also given a new origin story. She is the daughter of a teenage single mother, and gets put into foster care at four. She is a street smart trouble maker and gets moved from different foster homes until at ten she runs away. 

23. Ex special forces agent Desmond Lamar takes her in. He runs a dojo as a martial arts sensei and gives her a job. Dinah asks him to train her, which he does. When he dies he leaves her the dojo, which gets attacked by a gang of ninjas and burns down. Thanks to her martial arts skills during the attack she gets recruited to Team 7, in which she works as a covert ops agent specialising in infiltration.

24. During this time she marries long time partner Kurt Lance. After a mission Kurt is left presumed dead, and Team 7 folds. Dinah is left a fugitive on the run and an outlaw code named Black Canary. Kurt later resurfaces but his memory is damaged.

25. Dinah moves in with Barbara Gordon as her dojo is burnt down. She gets her own series which follows her as the lead singer in a rock band called Ashes on Sunday. The series follows her attempts at keeping her music career and secret life as a vigilante separate.

26. The series runs for twelve issues and follows Dinah as she joins cult punk band Black Canary, as the myterious singer known only as D.D. and alongside her all girl band members learns more about her past and where her canary cry came from. 

27. Black Canary is a badass leather jacket wearing hand to hand combat expert. She rides a motorcycle, and has a DGAF attitude. She is a great leader and always looks out for her friends- especially Barbara Gordon. 

This takes us right up to Rebirth, where she now features as part of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. Here's some recommended reading...

1. Green Arrow Black Canary Wedding Album. (here) This features the stories surrounding Dinah and Ollies ill fated wedding.

2. Green Arrow Black Canary Family Business. (here) Dinah and Ollie work as a crime fighting married duo. 

3. Birds of Prey vol.1 (here) goes back to the very beginning of the Birds of Prey where Oracle recruits Dinah. There are loads of books to collect and it's well worth reading the Gail Simone ones especially.

4. Birds of Prey Vol.1 New 52 (here) Rebooted and collected across four volumes featuring tons of kick ass DC women! 

5. Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell. (here) A stand alone graphic novel about Canary getting caught up in some black magic and having to turn to her friend Zatanna for help.

6. Black Canary Vol.1 Kicking and Screaming (here) Canary's only stand alone series, this is collected over two volumes and sees Dinah join a band. Beautifully drawn by Annie Wu and written by Brendan Fletcher and Cameron Stewart (two thirds of the team behind Batgirl of Burnside and Motor Crush). Read this series!

7. Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Rebirth Vol.1 (here) The sisterly crime fighting trio of Batgirl, Black Canary and Huntress being badasses and having fun.

So that's my guide to Black Canary! Next time: Wonder Woman!

New books and stuff.

Some books and stuff I picked up in January...
 The above is a little charity shop haul. I love looking around the charity shops every so often- especially the book section. I managed to get an as new copy of Swing Time by Zadie Smith for 99p!

I also got a nice little haul from The Works. They were having a sale  and I got thriller Her Darkest Nightmare for £1. This has been on my wishlist for a while. I also got 3 books for £5, they had a load of new books added to this deal. Finally I got some stationery from Wilkinsons. I needed a folder for uni and couldn't resist the cactus notebook.

 I also got Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams for £2 on Amazon. This is a collection of short sci-fi stories- I'd picked up the Blade Runner book from The Works. It's one of my favourite films so I'm looking forward to reading the story it's based on. 

The Method is a dark thriller about a pregnant sixteen year old who gets kidnapped, but is very manipulative and turns the tables on her captor. Sweetfreak is a YA that I've heard a lot about on booktube, and is about an anonymous online account that starts making accusations about a girl who decides to investigate who is behind it. 

Lastly, I picked up the Little Book of Mindfulness in Tesco. I have a big interest in mindfulness, and as part of my therapy module at uni recently had to write a paper on it, and have become even more into it!

Book review: The Girl Before by JP Delaney

A psychological thriller that spins one woman’s seemingly good fortune, and another woman’s mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception—and the hottest title at the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair.

A damaged young woman gets the unique opportunity to rent a one-of-a-kind house. When she falls in love with the sexy, enigmatic architect who designed it, she has no idea she is following in the footsteps of the girl who came before: the house’s former tenant.

The eerie parallels in the two girls’ lives lay bare an enthralling story…and make this novel the must-read thriller of the season.

My thoughts:

Have you ever wished someone would write a book that combined the controlling 'romance' of Fifty Shades of Grey with the domestic thriller style of The Girl on the Train? if so you will love The Girl Before!

I'll be honest, I didn't love this book. Although the fast pace kept me interested and the premise was intriguing there were quite a few issues that put me off. The first being that both women seemed interchangeable- which I get is kind of the point but it made it hard to differentiate between each of their voices- they both seemed to have quite different personalities but were never fully explored, and the writing felt very impersonal. A side niggle is that in the chapters focusing on Emma (the girl before) no speech marks were used. I am guessing this was to help separate the two characters but surely there was a better way than forgoing punctuation...

Both women and in fact pretty much all the characters were unlikable. Usually that isn't an issue for me as some of my favourite books feature an unlikable protagonist but I felt like the actions of the two women were unrealistic. Jane was described as a smart woman and yet none of her decisions made sense and seemed stupid. Edward was made out to be a desirable character when I just felt like he was a controlling creep and the fact these woman wanted anything to do with him was beyond me! 

I was also quite uncomfortable with the subject of rape being used as a plot device in the story, and felt it was handled quite badly, as well as a hint of racism.

Overall I gave this 2 stars on Goodreads. I don't want to make this review totally negative- the pacing and story did keep me interested enough to keep reading, but ultimately this was just not the book for me.

If you liked The Girl on the Train then I have a strong feeling you will probably enjoy The Girl Before.

The Girl Before is out now in paperback

[Thanks to Quercus for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review]

Small pleasures.

Sometimes it's good to celebrate the little things, so here are some of my small pleasures over the last week or so...

1. Having six days off from work
2. Chocolate chip muffins
3. New comics
4. Planning uni work in my new diary
5. New Brooklyn 99 episodes going on Netflix
6. Finding some great mental health magazines in Tesco
7. A warm bath on a cold night
8. Cuddles with my cat pal Mr. Lola
9. Getting some nice bargains in the Simply Be sale
10. A cute thank you note from my Nan for her Birthday presents
11. Having a film & curry night with my Dad
12. Cherry and strawberry smoothies

 One of my Simply Be bargains
Mental health magazines in Tesco, and Mr. Lola getting a head rub!

My first selfie of 2018, and I desperately need a haircut!

90's Nostalgia.

1. Everyone having their favourite Spice Girl. (Mine: Sporty)
2. Coming home from school to watch The Animals of Farthing Wood (very tense viewing!) and The Queens Nose.
3. Getting Panda Pops at the school disco.
4. Getting up early in the school holidays to watch the latest episode of the X-Men animated series, and The New Adventures of Superman.

5. Wishing you was April in TMNT, despite that terrible yellow jumpsuit!
6. Buying a Fun Fax at the school book fair and collecting the add on books.
7. Going to the cinema to see Jurassic Park, Matilda, Jumanji, Men in Black...
8. Basically watching any film that featured Macaulay Culkin.

9. Reading Goosebumps books in bed and getting creeped out.
10. Getting My Little Pony, Care Bears and Polly Pocket for Christmas.
11. Spending pocket money in Woolworths on cassette (and later CD) singles.
12. Choosing from your vast video collection of which Disney Sing Along Songs to watch.

13. Never missing an episode of Keenan and Kel. (Who loves orange soda?)
14. Pick'n'mix at Woolworths for a Saturday treat (the stuff of dreams!)
15. Adidas joggers with the poppers down the leg. (And always being paranoid someone would pop them open!)
16. Watching Gladiators on a Saturday night.

17. Getting style advise and room decor inspiration from Clarissa.
18. Listening to the charts on Sunday or watching Top of the Pops on Friday evening to see who was number 1.
19. Hoping your bag of crisps had the £5 note in!
20. Wishing you were as badass as Buffy/ Scully/ Xena/ Lisa Simpson/ Wednesday Addams/Daria.

21. Spending all of school lunch break having Pog battles in the playground.
22. Choosing your breakfast cereal based on the free toy.
23. Using the Argos catalogue to write your Christmas list.
24. Going to the local shop for penny sweets and getting a bag of Bubbly, golf ball bubblegum, Drumstick lollies, chocolate mice, cola bottles and Refreshers.

If you enjoyed that little trip down memory lane why not check out Nineties Boxbusters on Etsy who sell 90's Nostalgia boxes packed with cool 90's stuff and handmade items!

What are your favourite things about the 90's?

Most anticipated reads of 2018.

Here are the 2018 released books I have on pre-order...

Black Mirror Vol.1 edited by Charlie Brooker
Edited by Charlie Brooker, the creator of the hit Netflix original series Black Mirror, this book takes the very essence of the globally acclaimed cult TV show to create new, original, darkly satirical stories that tap into our collective unease about the modern world. This is Black Mirror in book form, allowed to roam through the imaginations of some of the leading names in contemporary fiction. This collection will challenge you to see the world in a different—and more disturbing—light.

You have been warned. . . .

Missing Person by Sarah lotz
Reclusive Irish bookseller Shaun Ryan has always believed that his older brother, Teddy, died in a car accident. It's only on his mother's deathbed that he learns the truth: Teddy, who was gay, fled the Catholic, deeply conservative County Wicklow for New York decades earlier. Shaun finds no sign of him in New York or anywhere else--until he comes across the unsolved murder of a John Doe whose description matches Teddy's.

Desperate for information, Shaun tracks down Chris Guzman, a woman who runs a website dedicated to matching missing persons cases with unidentified bodies. Through Chris's site, a group of online cold case fanatics connect Teddy with the notorious "Boy in the Dress" murder, believed to be one of many committed by a serial killer targeting gay men.

But who are these cold case fanatics, and how do they know so much about a case that left the police and the FBI stumped? With investigators, amateurs, and one sadistic killer on a collision course, Missing Person is Sarah Lotz at her most thrilling and terrifying.

Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage
The parts of Mira Cillo that Ben touched are etched on his soul.

Palm. Hair. Chest. Cheek. Lips. Throat. Heart.

It was the last one that broke her. After her death, Mira sends Ben on a quest for notes she left in the seven places where they touched—notes that explain why she and her sister, Francesca, drowned themselves in the quarry. How Ben interprets those notes has everything to do with the way he was touched by a bad coach years before. But the truth behind the girls’ suicides is far more complicated, involving a dangerous infatuation, a deadly miracle, and a crushing lie.

The Room By the Lake by Emma Dibdin
When Caitlin moved from London to New York, she thought she had left her problems behind: her alcoholic father, her dead mother, the pressure to succeed. But now, down to her last dollar in a foreign city, she is desperately lonely.

Then she meets Jake. Handsome, smart, slightly damaged Jake. He lives off-grid, in a lakeside commune whose members practise regular exercise and frequent group therapy. Before long, Caitlin has settled into her idyllic new home. It looks like she has found the fresh start she longed for. But, as the commune tightens its grip on her freedom and her sanity, Caitlin realises too late that she might become lost forever...

The Long Drop by Denise Mina
William Watt wants answers about his family's murder. Peter Manuel has them. But Peter Manuel is a liar.William Watt is an ordinary businessman, a fool, a social climber.

Peter Manuel is a famous liar, a rapist, a criminal. He claims he can get hold of the gun used to murder Watt's family.

One December night in 1957, Watt meets Manuel in a Glasgow bar to find out what he knows.
Based on true events, The Long Drop is an extraordinarily unsettling, evocative and compelling novel from a writer at the height of her powers.

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too. 

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defences that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

Plus + Edited by Bethany Rutter
Plus-size fashion is daring, experimental and deeply personal. There's no longer any shame in not fitting the traditional ideals of beauty, as proven by Gabi Gregg, Tess Holliday, Beth Ditto and thousands of bloggers and models around the world.

The online plus-size fashion community is loud, international and confident. Millions of #ootd photos are shared everyday, showing off amazing style and beautiful people. Plus+ gathers together the very best, and celebrates all shapes, sizes and aesthetics a beautiful, sharply designed, glossy collection to inspire everyone, plus-size or otherwise.

Zodiac Starforce Vol.2 Cries of the Fire Prince by Kevin Panetta
After defeating a former Zodiac Member and her mean-girl minions, the girls thought they'd catch a break! But once a mean magical girl, always a mean magical girl and Libra's former best friend wants that power back! Determined to bring the goddess Cimmeria into our dimension, her coven opens a portal to the dark dimension Nephos, only they don't get what they bargained for. A new big-bad has come out to play and demons begin to overrun the town! Zodiac Starforce discovers they aren't the only Zodiac team in the game and together they form a tenuous alliance to find out who's behind the demon infestation.

Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin & Nina Vakueva
When Chris joins the staff at her local record store, she’s surprised to find out that her co-workers share a secret: they’re all members of a secret fight club that take on the patriarchy and fight crime!

Starry-eyed Chris has just started the dream job every outcast kid in town wants: working at Vinyl Mayhem. It's as rad as she imagined; her boss is BOSS, her co-workers spend their time arguing over music, pushing against the patriarchy, and endlessly trying to form a band. When Rosie Riot, the staff's favourite singer, mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show, Chris discovers her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl . . . Her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club! 

Books I want to read in 2018.

This is a selection of the books on my shelf that I'd like to read this year. Last year I picked around 30 books and only ended up reading about half of them so I've kept this list shorter this year. There's a mixture of different genres here and a few graphic novels too. I will be reading Force of Nature by Jane Harper pretty soon as I am taking part in the blog tour in February. Saga vol.8 is on pre order and should be arriving today. Nightfilm is one of the longer books on my shelf, but it's a thriller that sounds amazing so I really want to get to it as it's been on my shelf for way too long. My Best Friends Exorcism is the newest book from Grady Hendrix- I read Horrorstor in 2017 and loved it, it was one of my favourite books of the year so I have high hopes for this one.