chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

Yeah, I seem to be doing this monthly. *sigh*

What have you just finished reading?

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. YA fantasy with a Slavic-based setting. The heroine is a prickly, skinny girl who is a cartographer with the army, but she turns out to be The Chosen One and gets swept off for special magical training. She's a duck out of water in a way that reminds me a little of Menolly in the Harper Hall in McCaffrey's Pern books, with the queen bee girls being rude and prickly to her. About midway through she suddenly becomes healthier and prettier because Plot Reasons, and then she starts to like to try on dresses, and I realized that I didn't like her nearly as much. I then had to castigate myself for this, because I'm sure lots of the intended readers would love that part. There was some silly romantical stuff too, which I also disliked. And then Bardugo completely confounded my expectations about what the last part of the book was going to be like. Well done, author! I still don't think it's a great book: too many things happening with too little run-up (for example, Alina's relationship wth her childhood friend Mal would have been better with more showing, less telling, of their shared history), but I think I'm invested enough to get the sequel.

The Snake Stone, by Jason Goodwin, is the second Master Yashim book. I begin to see what [personal profile] flemmings was saying about the hero's sex life. It's annoying because Yashim might as well not be a eunuch, except that it means he can visit the seraglio in the palace. He's starting to read more like a man with a slightly low-ish sex drive instead. The cultural and culinary details remain interesting, and I liked the info about pre-Victorian archeology and book-collecting.

The Little Death by Michael Nava is the first volume of a mystery series about a gay lawyer, Henry Rios. It features a tragic Boyfriend in the Refrigerator and lots of Evil Plotting by the rich and the famous. I like Henry, although his situation is somewhat depressing. I will probably try the next one as well.

Four British Fantasists, which is a critical study and comparison of authors Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Susan Cooper, and Diana Wynne Jones. The author, Charles Butler, is a member of the DWJ online mailing list. The book was interesting, and now I'm wondering whether I should fill in some of the books that I haven't read that are discussed, especially by Lively and Garner. Although I remember bouncing off Garner's Red Shift, and the things he wrote after that are apparently even more experimental.

What are you currently reading?

Another re-read for a writing challenge, and also volume 10 of the manga Bunny Drop, which basically short stories about Daikichi and Rin that didn't make it into the main series (which ended, plot-wise, with vol. 9).

What do you think you'll read next?

I just got an Amazon order that includes volume 1 of Fumi Yoshinaga's manga series What Did You Eat Yesterday? Also, volume 3 of the hard yaoi manga Crimson Spell (by Ayano Yamane), and the latest volumes of Marjorie Liu's Hunter Kiss series (Labyrinth of Stars) and Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant series (Broken Homes). The Aaronovitch has been getting mixed reviews, but I have to at least give it a try because the earlier books were so awesome. (These are both urban fantasy, for those unfamiliar with them, but very different in tone and scope.)

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

Guys, I have not done this since November. I will try to get back on track!

What have you just finished reading?

Marie Brennan's ([livejournal.com profile] swan_tower's) historical fantasy A Star Shall Fall. I liked it fairly well. I'm not sure what would have made it better for me. I need to think about that. I got this copy from last year's Con or Bust auction, so it's taken me a while to decide to read it.

The latest volume, 9, of the manga Ooku: The Inner Chambers by Fumi Yoshinaga. I really liked it and found it much less grim than this series usually is, so I expect the other shoe to drop and the series to go back to normal - or worse - by next volume. There's a great new character, Hiraga Gennai. I will not spoil you about Gennai and what makes Gennai great. XD

The first two volumes of the manga Thermae Romae, which is awesomely silly and beautifully drawn. (The book production values are spectacular too.) It's about a Roman engineer who keeps being transported off at random intervals to present-day Japan, where he encounters various modern-day Japanese public and private baths and invariably returns with new inspirations to try out in Rome. Some of the inspirations are relatively believable, and some are wonderfully absurd in a Flintstones-cartoon sort of way. (Wait'll you see his shampoo shield and shampoo hose.) His interpretations of what he's seeing in Japan are really funny.

What are you currently reading?

I just started Marjorie Liu's The Fire King, which is one of her Dirk & Steele paranormal romances.

What do you think you'll read next?

I grabbed Jason Godwin's The Janissary Tree from the take-on leave-one collection at work. This is a historical mystery set in the early 19th-century Ottoman Empire. I seem to recall reading a favorable review of it at one point, and it won the Edgar Award in 2007. Also, I have the first two volumes of the manga Vinland Saga, but it looks awfully grim. It may be a while until I can get myself to read it.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Busy week!

C.J. Cherryh's Russalka, which had a more interesting and touching ending than I remember. As is common with Cherryh, I could see ideas and issues that she has tried again or previously in other works, which doesn't bother me: they're interesting ideas.

Also, vol. 8 of Ooku by Fumi Yoshinga. This is still a cool series, and beautifully drawn, but I want more slice-of-life Yoshinaga (like Antique Bakery and Flower of Life) or yaoi Yoshinaga (like Ichigenme … The First Class Is Civil Law). I wonder whether she'll ever go back to her roots that way?

Then I read the first volume of the manga version of Durarara!. My reaction is basically "What the hell was that?" The story thus far has seesawed back and forth between cheery high school comedy and urban dark fantasy. I imagine it will take a couple more volumes before I can even tell whether I like it or not.

Volume 2 of House of Five Leaves was interesting, although the mangaka's distinctive drawing style is beginning to wear on me a little. Although it couldn't be more different in style from Fruits Basket, I'm having the same sort of difficulties telling characters apart.

Finally, I just finished Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire, the sixth October Daye book. I really liked it. I think it's partially because it is now definitely an ensemble cast. Given that it's written from Toby's POV, she has to be the center, but she has collected an extended family-of-choice that I very much like. So now there's only one more book available: Chimes at Midnight, which just came out a few weeks ago. And then I'll have to wait for one volume a year, according to her website: three more volumes, coming out 2014 - 2016.

What are you currently reading?

And still limping through The Wouldbegoods by E. Nesbit. I only read bits of it when I have nothing else to read, but I am determined to finish it.

I downloaded the first Marjorie Liu "Dirk & Steele" book, Tiger Eye. It's my first straight paranormal romance (as opposed to Liu's harder-edged urban fantasies about demon hunter Maxine Kiss), and for about the whole first chapter I wanted to thrown it against a wall for what I assume were romanticism elements. As an example, when Our Heroine is retreating through a crowd, and the whole scene has been from her POV, she's suddenly described as getting through the crowd "gracefully." Because, you know, when someone is worried about retreating from potential danger, she of course spends time thinking about how gracefully she does it. (Mary Sue, phone home.) But I'm getting much more interested in it as we get into the heart of the book, including everything from the comedy of trying to make a very tall exotic-looking man inconspicuous in Beijing (and trying to find normal 20th century cosmopolitan clothes to fit him, since he showed up looking like an extra from a Conan story) and the family-of-choice aspects of the firm. And the constantly broken-off almost-sex scenes aren't any more over-the-top than a lot of fanfiction. It's like Liu was really unsure of what she was doing for the first couple of chapters and then got into it more whole-heartedly.

What do you think you'll read next?

Uhhh … another problem for another day. I do have two novels in hand that I got off the bring one-take one shelf at work, but I'm not itching to start either one: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which was recommended by a colleague. Anyone have opinions on either of them?

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Volume 4 of the manga Bunny Drop (re-read) and the omnibus volume 5 of Gunslinger Girls, where the mangaka is working overtime to stomp on our hearts and smash those suckers flat. (Have I mentioned that the latter series is shounen by its magazine classification? That seems weird to me. Although I am glad that young teen boys are being exposed to the concept of tough, adventurous girls, even if they are brainwashed cyborgs.)

What are you currently reading?

Still Limping through The Wouldbegoods by E. Nesbit and nibbling away at C.J. Cherryh's Russalka. Also some re-reading for a writing project. Plus, I have started vol. 3 of the manga A Bride's Story.

What do you think you'll read next?

Volume 2 of House of Five Leaves. volume 8 of Ooku by Fumi Yoshinaga, and volume 1 of Durarara! are in the pipeline from Amazon, along with Ashes of Honor (vol. 6 of Seanan McGuire's October Daye series).

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

It's been three weeks since I did this. I'm not going to list everything I've read since then!

What have you just finished reading?

Nail Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I enjoyed it; it was a comfortable fit for me. Even the scary parts were comfortable somehow: Gaiman has a real feel for what actually scares kids. The reviewers have been mostly talking this up like it's the second coming of goodness-knows-what. I think it's an effective piece of writing and in some places, very beautiful, but it isn't wrapping around my brain like, say, American Gods. On the other hand, I liked it better than Coraline or The Graveyard Book. It also reminded me in some ways of Jo Walton's Among Others, in that it's a tribute to the place that books create for introverted children.

I also read volume 1 of The House of Five Leaves, a manga that had been recommended by [personal profile] smillaraaq and that had caught my eye on the Viz site a while back. I liked it and wanted more.

I'm re-reading the first several volumes of the manga Bunny Drop (note: spoilers in the post at the link), probably because last week I read the final volume. All my series seem to have run out. *is sad* Anyway, I've finished re-reading volumes 1 through 3.

I also just finished Jim Hines' Codex Born, which was a total page-turner for me. I also really liked the way Lena's character developed. I think this is the book where I can officially say that I am a Hines fan. I was very underwhelmed by The Stepsister Scheme, and although Libriomancer was fun, it didn't grab me the way this most recent book did.

What are you currently reading?

Limping through The Wouldbegoods by E. Nesbit, which I don't dislike enough to quit entirely. Also re-reading volume 4 of Bunny Drop and C.J. Cherryh's Russalka, which I first read years ago, and which I have downloaded to my new tablet from the author's Closed Circle site.

What do you think you'll read next?

Hmmm, I really don't know! Someone on the f-list was reviewing some private investigator mysteries with gay protagonists (this author and this one); maybe I'll try one of those.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Seanan McGuire's Late Eclipses and One Salt Sea (vols. 4 and 5 of the October Daye series), vols. 1 and 2 of the manga A Bride's Story, and vols. 1 and 2 of the manga adaptation of the anime Tiger & Bunny.

I liked One Salt Sea better than Late Eclipses, because in the latter, Toby is back to doing impulsive stupid things that have me going "Um, no, Toby, don't do that," with the result that I knew roughly what was happening about halfway through the book. In One Salt Sea, I knew to some degree whodunnit, but not how, and it was interesting to see it play out. There were also a couple of very funny scenes.

(On the other hand, I continue to twitch from time to time and wonder what happened to the Native American spirits in this completely Euro-fae-occupied America.)

A Bride's Story is just beautiful, and I liked Amir's feistiness and mad hunting skillz. On the other hand, there's almost no exploration of how it feels to be a 20-yr-old woman married to a 12-yr-old boy.

Tiger & Bunny was cute, but after two volumes, the underlying emotional arcs are only just getting started.

What are you currently reading?

Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells, and The Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit. I am enjoying them very much.

What do you think you'll read next?

I have Throne of the Crescent Moon queued up, and also some re-reading for another writing exchange.

 

chomiji: A chibi cartoon of Hotaru from the manga Samurai Deeper Kyo, with a book. Caption: Manga Joy (Manga joy!)

What have you just finished reading?

The cover of vol. 13 of the manga Black Butler, showing Ceil's young fiancee Lizzie in her petticoats, armed with a sword and a scowl

Volume 8 (the latest volume) of the manga series Bunny Drop. This tale of a little girl who is adopted by her adult nephew (yes ... you see, her father was the guy's grandfather) does a time skip after volume 4, and the viewpoint shifts from 30-year-old bachelor Daikichi to now-teenaged Rin. I'm not enjoying the later volumes as much as I did the first four, but it's still a fairly interesting slice of life series.

Also: volume 13 of the manga series Black Butler. The last couple of volumes followed young Ceil and his faithful demonic butler Sebastian as they take an ill-fated voyage on a luxury ocean liner. The cover, presented here, shows all you really need to know, IMO (although it really depicts an event that happened last volume). Yes, that is sweet little Lizzie, Ceil's fiancee, in her petticoats, wielding two cavalry sabers. She's good with them, too. What was she fighting? Zombies, basically. This is Black Butler, after all. This volume opens with a capsule flashback of Lizzie's upbringing. We also find out the Straight Dope about the Undertaker.

What are you currently reading?

The third omnibus volume of the manga Gunslinger Girl

What do you think you'll read next?

Probably John Scalzi's Redshirts. I've been going through tor.com's Star Trek TOS re-watch (this is a couple of years old), which is getting me into the right frame of mind, I think.

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Volume 1 of the manga series Bunny Drop. I've started re-reading the series because the next volume (vol. 8) was just released. I'm also still working my way through Starve Better.

What are you currently reading?

Predictably, volume 2 of Bunny Drop. And lots of bits of things for writing reference.

What do you think you'll read next?

Sadly, I really don't know, except for more Bunny Drop. Brain doesn't seem to be functioning at a high level tonight. :-(

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

I actually thought I had blogged Yumi Unita's manga Bunny Drop, but it looks like I haven't (I can't find a review here, anyway). Basically, for the first four volumes it's a surprisingly deep "slice of life" manga about a bachelor, Daikichi, who adopts a four-year-old girl who is, in strict family tree terms, his aunt. Little Rin is serious, intent, and surprisingly independent, and the relationship between the two grows in a way that's heart-warming without being cutesy. [personal profile] rachelmanija wrote it up here.

The current volume marks the point at which this series, for me, basically jumps the shark. ==> Spoilers spoilers MAJOR spoilers: It time skips ahead to where Rin is 16 years old, and most of this volume was just the sort of high school teen manga that I avoid like the plague. In the last third, it went on track again for a bit with the heart-warming slice of life, but I understand - my husband's fault, he read ahead online - that in fact, Rin and Daikuchi are going to become an item in the future, and ewwwww! Anyway, if I continue further with this series, it will be merely from "OK, how do they get there?" curiosity and not from the affection that I felt for the first four volumes.

I was really happy to see Eiji Ōtsuka and Housui Yamazaki's Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service back in business. The volumes always come shrink wrapped and with Parental Advisory stickers, but usually all that is because of one or two grotesque scenes of nude corpses. This time, the protective measures are made to earn their keep thoroughly in the first story - and I realize that any more details would blow a reveal, so I'll stop right there. I like the second story, which is about a couple (male and female) of aspiring comedians, best: it managed to be spooky, grotesque, and sweet, a feat that Kurosagi pulls off every once in a while. The Asian-inspired doll collecting fad shows up in the final story. And in the notes at the end, volume 13 is mentioned, so yay! I was afraid that the hiatus had meant that the series was ending.

Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys has been getting more and more grim. This volume is a bit of a break, but I imagine it's just a false dawn before the ultimate crisis. Still, I'll take it: I enjoyed this one quite a bit. The mysterious guitar-playing wanderer "Yabuki Joe" (yes, I knew who he really is, as do most readers long before this point, I'm sure) and naif police office Chono try to cross a deadly checkpoint on their way into Tokyo. Yabuki Joe has a confrontation with a slimeball character that we haven't seen for many volumes, and it turns into a Moment of Awesome. All in all, a welcome breather from the ongoing disasters of the series.

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