I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
My cat just threw up on my remote. I guess that means I'll for sure be spending the next few hours reading rather than finishing up Season 1 of the volleyball anime I've been watching. :-p
(The anime is Haikyu!!, if you're curious. It's okay, but not as immediately appealing as Big Windup! and Yuri!!! on Ice.)*
* Lol, so many sports anime with ALL the exclamation points.
"Even as a youngster, though, I could not bring myself to believe that if knowledge presented danger, the solution was ignorance. To me, it always seemed that the solution had to be wisdom. You did not refuse to look at danger, rather you learned how to handle it safely." (viii)
I have too many books going at once, and I'm not sure I can finish this one before the due date. But I'll give it a shot.
I've read this book several times but have never listened to the audio before. I'm sad to say that the narrator, Diane Warren, seems to be leeching a lot of the goodness out of it. The narration is clear, but slow-paced and not particularly varied.
"The close of the party could not come too soon. There was nothing here to interest her as much as the contents of a single page of her waiting books."
Oh look, it's me!
City of Strife is set in the bustling city of Isandor and stars a huge cast of characters, each with intersecting storylines, histories, and paths. A few examples:
City of Strife is one of the very few (perhaps only?) ARCs I’ve ever requested from an author. I was interested in the book’s LGBTQIA+ cast and “found family” aspect, and the author had a nice online form that, if I remember correctly, only asked for interested reviewers’ email addresses (easy! low stress! didn’t require NetGalley or a Twitter DM!). The long book description concerned me a little and made it difficult to tell what the book would be like, but I figured I’d give it a shot.
I’m glad I did, because I enjoyed it immensely, although I’m now unhappy that I’ll have to wait who knows how long for Book 2 to come out. A word of warning: City of Strife ends with lots of things still unresolved and several characters in peril. Crossing my fingers that none of the characters I care about get killed off in the next two books.
One thing that dismayed me when I first started reading: the many, many POVs. The book was written in third person, but chapters/sections focused on different characters’ perspectives. Almost every named character had a chapter or section written from their POV, and it wasn’t until I’d gotten 15% into the book that a POV repeated itself.
The POVs turned out to be both the book’s strength and its weakness. I loved gradually learning how the various characters’ stories were interrelated - what the stuff at the Shelter had to do with House Dathirii, who Nevian was secretly visiting for magic lessons, what would prompt Arathiel to reveal his noble blood to his friends at the Shelter and/or Isandor’s noble families, etc. However, all those POVs and complex and interrelated storylines meant that some of my favorite characters and storylines didn’t get as much page-time as I’d have liked. For example, Arathiel and, eventually, Hasryan ended up being my favorite characters, and I particularly looked forward to seeing Arathiel find a place for himself at the Shelter with Larryn, Cal, and Hasryan. Unfortunately, there wasn’t nearly as much on-page friendship-building as I expected, and one character’s actions near the end of the book destroyed my impression of the trio as an overall warm and welcoming group.
I much preferred House Dathirii, which, aside from a couple exceptions I’m hoping that one of the next couple books will cover in more detail, was largely just as warm and welcoming as it initially appeared to be. I particularly loved Camilla. Everyone could use someone like Camilla in their lives.
House Dathirii brings me to another aspect of the book I both loved and had problems with: the politics. I love fantasy and sci-fi books with lots of politics, and this one had House Dathirii clashing with the Myrian enclave and struggling to get support, a 10-year-old murder that was relevant to current politics, and more. Fascinating stuff. Unfortunately, I prefer when there’s at least one character who’s incredibly skilled at navigating politics, and this book didn’t have that, at least not front-and-center. Avenazar was so lacking in self-control that I was amazed he’d never done anything in Myria to earn himself an execution. Maybe he had really good family connections protecting him? And then there was Diel: principled, idealistic, and almost completely lacking in the ability to sit back, pick his battles, and maybe go at things a little more subtly and indirectly. At least he recognized that it was other members of his family who did the heavy lifting when it came to making sure the family survived whatever fight he’d chosen to involve them all in.
All in all, despite my complaints this was a riveting read, and I wish the next couple books were out already. In the meantime, I plan on getting myself a copy of Arseneault’s Viral Airwaves.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
Chores I have accomplished so far today: doing the dishes (at which time I noticed the pipes under the sink are dripping, ugh).
At some point I have to get groceries and do laundry, but I'd rather keep reading this. The first hints of attraction between Barbara and Margerit started shortly after my last status update, although neither of them has noticed that it's mutual yet. I can't wait until they finally get to travel to Rotenek and maybe get some time away from the watchful eyes of Margerit's family.
"To the baron, she had been a hunting dog or a fine sword - a tool to be employed to his ends. But with Margerit she felt more like a cloak to protect her from the wind or a hawk mantling over her chick."
I'm still loving this book. And still finding myself comparing it to The Goblin Emperor - not a bad thing at all. I gave that book 5 stars, and my gut says I may be rating this one the same.
The books in this series are expensive. Which sucks because I have a feeling I'm going to want to get the rest. I picked this one up during a Kobo 50% off sale but passed on the others because I didn't know if I'd like them. Darn it.
This really does remind me of The Goblin Emperor, if that book had been written from the perspective of Maia's sister or fiancee. Margerit cares more about scholarly pursuits than trying to get herself a husband, and Barbara has been trained to act as a bodyguard and is at least as educated as Margerit, if not more so. And they're going to become a couple at some point, yay. :-)
This is set sometime in the future. Humans have long since abandoned Earth. The dogs and cats they left behind eventually attained sentience and built their own societies in and around humanity’s ruins. They have jobs, government, cars, phones - basically, their lives look a lot like ours today.
Unfortunately for cats, this is largely a dog’s world. Cats are considered second-class citizens and have to struggle to get decent-paying jobs. Kipper, the book’s main character, doesn’t really expect that things will ever get better, but she tries to support her sister Petra’s political aspirations anyway. Then Kipper and Petra learn about a possible secret cat utopia in Ecuador, which they dub “Cat Havana” (never mind that Havana isn’t in Ecuador). After Petra suddenly disappears, apparently to go see Cat Havana for herself, Kipper decides to join her.
I bought this in an effort to scratch my post-Zootopia itch. The sci-fi aspects mentioned on the product page intrigued me, and it had several positive reviews, but the one negative review I came across made me wary. Still, it was cheap, so I bought it anyway.
The world-building was intriguing, but also sloppy and filled with holes. I found it difficult to believe that every last human had chosen to leave Earth behind, or that this would even be possible (imagine how much time and money it would have taken, and how many spaceships). How did the various animal species become sentient? Which species were sentient? Early on, I assumed that only cats, dogs, and otters were sentient. Dogs and cats lived on Earth, and otters had managed to establish themselves in space. However, once Kipper finally made it to the space station, there were mentions of “immigrant squirrels” and even a chef who happened to be an octopus. Also, since sentience hadn’t changed species’ sizes (most dogs towered over cats), I found myself wondering if their lifespans were the same too.
Despite my issues with it, I enjoyed the world of this book. There were indications that cat and dog interactions could be fairly complex, I was very intrigued by the brief description of octopus society, and I wanted to know more about otter life on the space station. The otter space ship that Kipper ended up on was also pretty cool.
That said, this book could have used a better editor. Although I didn’t notice any misspellings, I did spot several misused apostrophes and commas, as well as a few incorrect phrases. A few examples:
“One of the Chihuahua's from Kipper's team came up to her and shook her paws, speaking a few indecipherable words.” (53)
“Chihuahua’s” shouldn’t have an apostrophe.
“However, the heart of the platform was the open, landing area in the center for the climbers -- the elevator cars.” (60)
There shouldn't be a comma between "open" and "landing."
“They looked at her, and they held their gaze longer than she expected.” (93)
I’m pretty sure that should be “they held her gaze.”
There were also lots of instances of stuff that should have been streamlined prior to publication. Here’s a good example:
“There were otters occupying some of the other beds, but none of them had noticed her yet. Well, she was sure they knew she was there. But none of them had noticed she was awake.” (111)
Why not just say “but none of them had noticed she was awake yet” and do away with the rest?
The story’s pacing wasn't very good, and Kipper’s shifting and easy-to-forget goals probably didn’t help. Petra was supposedly the impetuous one, and yet Kipper was the one who decided to go all the way to Ecuador with only a single note as evidence that Petra had gone there. She soon realized that Petra probably hadn’t made it to Ecuador yet but went into space anyway, even though her primary goal had been finding her sister. Once she was on the space station, her goal shifted to finding Cat Havana, even though that potentially meant she’d never see her brother and sister again.
There was too much that didn’t make sense. Although Trudith was one of my favorite characters (second only to Emily the octopus), it boggled my mind that anyone thought it was a good idea to hire a protective dog like her to kill somebody, especially considering her tendency to follow anyone’s firmly stated orders. Then there was the enormous plot hole involving the note that inspired Kipper to go to Ecuador in the first place. I suppose it might have been part of the setup for the sequel, except, if that had been the case, I’d have expected Kipper to wonder about that detail more.
All in all, this turned out to be kind of disappointing. I have a couple of the author’s other works on my Nook and am still hopeful that one of them might be better, but it’ll probably be a while before I give them a shot.
If it hadn't been for the plot hole introduced at the very end of the book, I might have given this 2 stars. There was something endearing about the world and characters, despite the story's many, many issues.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
This had some intriguing, if incredibly sloppy, world-building that fed a little of my post-Zootopia craving. However, then a sentence near the end introduced a great big plot hole. Ugh.
I requested this via ILL after someone said that the movie Passengers made them think of "50 Girls 50," except that "50 Girls 50" made no attempt to present the situation as anything other than horrific.
I was a little dismayed upon getting this, because the comics are way more text-heavy than I usually prefer. Still, I'll give it a shot. The introduction mentioned a couple other comics in the collection that piqued my curiosity: "Brain-Child!" and "I, Rocket" both feature sentient space ships.
I'm finished - the remaining pages are an excerpt from Mac and Isabella's book.
Eh. At the moment I'm leaning towards 2 stars, maybe 2.5 because it improved near the end. My main issues:
- Too much sex or thinking about sex, and not enough romance or friendship-building (every time Beth called herself Ian's friend, I wanted to snort, because all they ever did was have sex or lust after each other).
- Beth agreeing to marry Ian was supremely stupid. So was Beth's decision to ask Ian to be her lover. I could never get past that, even though there were some nice moments after they were married.
Hopefully I can write a full review soon.
I keep thinking about this book, particularly the beginning of it. It isn't my favorite of the Twelve Kingdoms books, and I prefer the second half to the first. Even so, I keep thinking about Yoko, the teenage girl who suddenly finds herself named the ruler of a whole kingdom in a world where nothing works the way she's used to things working.
During the beginning of her rule, she's paralyzed by doubt. How can she make decisions if she has no idea what she's doing? Afraid of making a mistake, she lets others make her decisions for her, but that turns out to be a mistake too. Before things get too bad, she decides to disappear for a bit and secretly live with a teacher who will at least help her learn how this new world she's living in works, so that she can start making informed decisions. She knows she'll be criticized for this in the short run, but in the long run (and in this world that could be hundreds of years) it'll help her kingdom prosper.
::sigh:: I don't particularly want to reread it at the moment, but, like I said, I keep thinking about it.
OMG. If Ian and Mac planned this in advance, I hope Beth freezes them out. I'd be so mad. Even if it was a spur of the moment solution, they should have gotten her input. She's a person, not an inanimate object.
Most of my January reviews never ended up on Booklikes because I skipped out on the site for a while out of frustration. Thankfully, BL seems to be back to normal (and will continue to work well, I hope).
The most enjoyable stuff I read was probably:
- Mayday by Chris Strange - I loved the Maydays (aka kaiju) and ended up enjoying this despite the overly violent and misogynistic main character.
- Azumanga Daioh Omnibus - A reread. The final volume in the omnibus adds emotional depth to the series' general ridiculousness and still has the power to give me warm fuzzies.
- The Ancient Magus' Bride, vol. 1 - This shows a lot of promise so far.
TV watching went even better:
- Big Windup! - A rewatch. Although I don't like sports, I am often drawn to sports anime. Go figure. This is one of my top favorite sports anime of all time, and it boggles my mind that it didn't earn Funimation great gobs of money.
- Big Windup! 2 - I'm so glad Nozomi Entertainment licensed the rest of this series. I didn't think it was as good as the first season, but it was still fun, and it addressed one of the weaknesses of the first season in a way that had me wishing there were a third season or that the manga was available in English.
My favorite covers of the month:
Although I'm happy for the author that she got her rights back from Torquere and was able to self-publish this, I have to admit that I prefer Torquere's cover (pictured here) to the cover the author used in her rerelease. That said, I think the new covers for the rest of the series are way better than Torquere's.
This cover is one of the things that prompted me to give Mayday a closer look.
I love how gleeful Rocket looks.
Hm. Beth has just asked Ian if he would like a "liaison" with her. Only a few minutes before, Inspector Fellows arrived with his accusations, and Ian and Fellows had their little confrontation. I'm feeling somewhat doubtful of Beth's intelligence. Reassuring Ian that she's still his friend is one thing - asking him if he'll be her lover is a bit much under the circumstances.
So far, this is okay, but there's a lot more lusting and a lot less actual romance than I'd prefer.