cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (books)
I have to do this now because library books are due, and it got cold and snowed and the heat came on, so I can't keep piling these suckers up on the radiator.


Non-fiction:

Tyler, Royall, ed.: Japanese Tales
(this is an anthology of medieval Japanese stories--not folk lore, but rather stories written by upper-class members of the imperial court. I started reading this sucker back when I worked at the bookstore, some three years ago. It's a slow read, although an interesting and worthwhile read for people who are a) interested in Japanese history and culture, b) folklore and fairy tales, or c) Shinto and Buddhism. I'd heard for years about how Shinto and Buddhism harmoniously co-exist in Japan, but until I read this book, I never fully understood how that worked--I'd imagined peaceful mutual tolerance, but it's really more like a deep blending. You read about things like travelers going down some dangerous, haunted path, running into danger in the form of a powerful kami, and praying to a Buddhist figure. The menacing kami, however, sees that the traveler is a devout Buddhist, and, being a devout Buddhist his/her/itself, spares the traveler. It's a little bit like the way that various kinds of Western supernatural lore--vampire and werewolf myths--intermingle with Catholic imagery and Catholic beliefs--holy water, crosses, prayers, consecrated ground and whatnot).



Mystery:

Matsumoto Seicho: The Voice: Short stories by Japan's leading mystery writer
(In some other decade, I guess. It took me a few stories to adjust to the fact that in every story, the twist was signaled in about the first quarter of the story, and the rest of the story would be dedicated to following events to some logical end. I kept wanting some second twist closer to the end of a story, and it kept not happening).


Stout, Rex: Too Many Cooks
(Um, yeah, as [livejournal.com profile] snarp said, for a white guy writing in 1938, he didn't do too bad. And the story is Stout's usual strong stuff. But if the n-word or any of several other racial or ethnic slurs are dealbreakers for you, I would not read this.

I think Stout's racist like he is sexist--his is the worldview of an intelligent, thoughtful, sophisticated, creative, permissive and rather generous personality who is not, like, spectacularly socially enlightened for his era--I think he fits into his zeitgeist; he doesn't push the boundaries of his world. As a white chick who like snappy writing and vintage mystery, I find it easy and worthwhile to forgive him, but he does sometimes write things that need forgiving).



YA fiction:

Gaiman, Neil: The Graveyard Book
(I try to avoid Gaiman's prose books, because I don't enjoy them, but this was pressed on me by someone who knows my taste, and knows I adore Kipling. And, well, I finished it, which for me is pretty good when it comes to a Gaiman prose work, but I wish I hadn't known that it was a riff on Kipling's The Jungle Book before I read it, because then I would have been pleasantly surprised, instead of disappointed that it wasn't more like it. I love Kipling something ungodly fierce, and although Kim edges ahead by a hair as one of the most beautiful, loving, dream-like tributes to a real lost homeland I've ever read (the racial politics are actually really interesting, and not just massively depressing like, say, Heart of Darkness), The Jungle Book is nearly my favorite Kipling work. Gaiman's social politics are certainly easier to navigate than Kipling's (I mean, he did actually mean well, and he loved, loved, loved India, but boy was he racist), but if I was going to put them up next to each other, that's the only place where Gaiman would win for me.

Okay, will someone please tell Gaiman, for the love of god, that giving characters names like "Shadow" and "Door" and "Nobody" is fine when you're writing for comics--although it's still godawful cutesy--and the name is not the main signifier, but that when you're writing straight prose work, giving characters hideously unsubtle names like that is like slamming the readers in the head with a giant fucking brick over and over and over every single page? And to please stop it. Stop stop stop.

Alternatively, if people would stop trying to make me read Gaiman's prose work, he could continue to write books about people with BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS SYMBOLIC NAMES and using other textual tricks that so work better in a visual medium than in prose, and people who like that kind of thing could enjoy them, and I could ignore them in peace).



Graphic novels/comics:

Beaton, Kate: Never Learn Anything From History
(the only complaint whatsoever I have about this fabulous collection of Beaton's comics is that I had read them all recently enough to be able to remember them pretty well).


Hinds, Gareth: Beowulf
(hmm).



Manga:

Akino Matsuri: Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo vol. 6.


Asano Inio: What a Wonderful World! vol. 1
(okay, I remember these. I was so thrown, because I was sure I'd read some of these stories before when I heard they were licensed, but I started with volume 2 and didn't recognize any of them.

If you like Asano, you'll probably enjoy these. If you don't, you probably won't).


Azuma Kiyihiko: Yotsuba vol. 6
(the translation in this volume felt weirdly stiff--it's all still funny, and god knows, the art is expressive enough, but I know this could be better. Not the work, but the translation. Bummer. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm sorry ADV isn't publishing this anymore, because they were doing it better than Yen Press).


Tanaka Masashi: Gon vol. 3.

Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 5

Urasawa Naoki: Pluto vol. 6
(bawl).

Yasuko Aoike: From Eroica With Love vol. 4.


Yazawa Ai: Nana vol. 18-19
(bawl.

My love for Nana K. continues to grow in a way I never envisioned when I picked up volume 1 of this book, lo those three or four years ago. There is something profoundly satisfying about watching a callow youth mature into real adulthood, and I think Nana K. has experienced more genuine positive growth as a person than any other character in this entire series. Some of her decisions are kind of anxiety-inducing, but they're decisions she made thoughtfully and even selflessly, and she follows though on them in a steady way that's kind of unimaginable for the person she used to be).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:
Bierce, Ambrose: Fantastic Fables
(hmm. Lots to be said. Aesop's Fables, as written by a sophisticated late 19th century cynic; cynicism palls really, really fast. It's interesting, but at least from my perspective, not entertaining).


Romance:
Heyer, Georgette: The Talisman Ring
(I liked it! As I generally do with Heyer. She's very good, you know).

Sutherland, Peg: Queen of the Dixie Drive-In
(When [livejournal.com profile] telophase shipped this to me lo those many months ago, I meant to do an in-depth snarky review of it in lieu of payment. But I never got around to it, and then school happened. I think it was mostly okay? The prose didn't send me screaming and it wasn't hugely misogynistic or anything).


YA:
Jones, Diana Wynne:
The Game (way too short, but a good read. Loved the bit with the pork chop, and also how well the reveal worked with the prior characterizations; Jones always does that kind of thing well. There's a little part of me that keeps waiting for her to do some kind of truly pan-mythic story, but maybe that's not fair, especially at this point; she's a basically Western Civ gal, and I know that. And she does pretty good stuff with Greco-Roman/Western European/British Isles mythology; it's not as if she's stagnated with it).
The Spellcoats (reread),
Conrad's Fate (reread),
House of Many Ways (reread),
--totally meant to go on in more detail about all these rereads, but, as I said, school happened.


Light novels:
Ono Fuyumi:
The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow
(I wanted to love this, and Yoko, as much as [livejournal.com profile] bookelfe did, but I didn't. I felt better about that after I went back and reread her post on it, and her comments about why she identified so strongly with Yoko--identifying with a character is always YMMV, and I'm not that person. But I totally get the bit about it subverting fantasy tropes. It's fascinating for that, and the more I go back and look at it, the more I like the structure and plot. The prose of the translation is unimpressive, but the story is good).

The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Wind
(awww baby kirin. And, while reading this book, I found myself suddenly hugely in love with the entire universe--reading the second book made me love the first more, and made me desperately want more of the entire world, and all the characters. I begin to get used to Ono's mind, and I like it).


Graphic novels:
Foglio, Phil and Kaja: Girl Genius book four: Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of Dreams (holds up well on a reread).

Warren, Adam: Empowered vol. 5 (awwwwww fuckity.
But I'm relieved. I expected to cry a hell of a lot more than I did. I am simply grateful that I didn't cry more than I did. I think this series will eventually rip my beating heart from my chest and set it on fire, because that's what Adam Warren does to your heart. And you then say, "thank you sir, may I have another? Because I adore your clever writing, even though you obviously want to hurt me.")


Manga:

Akino Matsuri:
Genju no Seiza vols. 6-7 (was that another PSOH ref with the kirin? Say it's so, Akino!).
Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo vol. 5

Mori Kaoru: Emma vols. 8-9 (oh shit the Meredith bedroom scene was so hot! There is no sex, although there is sexiness, but the intimacy--emotional and physical--is so pure and tangible I kept having to put the book down and go oof).

Ninomiya Tomoko: Nodame Cantabile vols. 15-16.

Otsuka Eiji, writer, Yamazaki Housui, artist: Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service vol. 9

Takaya Natsuki: Fruits Basket vol. 22

Umino Chica: Honey & Clover vol. 4.

Urasawa Naoki: Pluto vol. 5 (and here I'd just boasted to my LCS guy that I knew everything that was gonna happen because I didn't see Urasawa deviating from the basic structure of the plot as outlined in Tezuka's The Greatest Robot on Earth. So far, he hasn't, but this is fucking Urasawa, man. He's a master of suspense. He will surprise you, and he will make you hang. And he'll do it well. It's why he's awesome and we love him.

Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 4

Watanabe Taeko;
Kaze Hikaru vol. 11
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (city life)
Books

Non-fiction:

Brunvand, Jan Harold: The Baby Train and Other Lusty Urban Legends
(since it's just a reproduction of Brunvand's columns from the 1990s, it's not as interesting as his other books, which are more in-depth explorations of the history of legends cited; nevertheless, this was a good read).

Mystery:

Stout, Rex: Not Quite Dead Enough, and Over My Dead Body
(I think the biggest appeal of these, aside from the fact that they date from, and depict the fascinating world of mid-century New York City, is the extremely witty prose. Archie Goodwin is as funny as he thinks he is, and it's really fun to read).



Graphic novels:

Blanchet, Pascal: Baloney: A Tale in 3 Symphonic Acts
(Drawn and Quarterly. As gorgeous as the last Blanchet I read).

Campbell, Eddie: The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard
(First Second. He was indeed amazing and remarkable).

Kuper, Peter: Mind's Eye: An Eye of the Beholder Collection
(NMB ComicsLit. I wouldn't really call these visual puns, as Kuper does--Furuya's Short Cuts were visual puns; these are more like Jeffery Archer stories with a twist ending, only the twist is often not much of a twist).

Kuper, Peter: Upton Sinclair: The Jungle
(NBM ComicsLit. A more perfect marriage of original work and adapter I cannot imagine. This is so totally up Kuper's alley).

Larcenet, Manu: Ordinary Victories
(NBM ComicsLit. I've identified one of the many draws for me in reading non-US comics is the possibility of seeing a lovely, unfamiliar landscape through the eyes of someone who knows it well, which does happen here).

Maxx: Bardin the Supperrealist
(Fantagraphics. And superreal--and surreal--it is!).

Morse, Scott: Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! vol. 1
(nice use of a metaphor. I remember being put off by something in the book when I read it--I don't know what now, though. Art's fabulous; Morse is extremely talented and knows his way around a comics page).

Stavans, Ilan, writer, and Roberto Weil, artist: Mr. Spic Goes to Washington
(I'm always trying to improve my comprehension of written Spanish, so I had a Spanish/English dictionary while I was reading this. Alas, there were words my dictionary didn't know--like "vato," which I assume is a noun--they're presumably either slang or just not common enough to make it into my little paperback dictionary. Oh well).


Manga/Manwha:

Akino Matsuri: Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo vol 4
(hark! Do I espy arc plot? I hope so! But even if I don't, I don't care. I love all facets of PSOH).


Byung-Jun Byun: Run, Bong-Gu, Run!
(NBM ComicsLit. This is really all about the city landscape, and the harshness of city life, etc, which was perfectly evident to me as I read the book, and was borne out by the afterword. Still, I found the artist's vision of the urban landscape to be lovely, and not frightening or lonely or alienating at all. I don't know whether that's a failure on the part of the artist, to properly convey the perceived evils of the city, or a failure in me to overcome my love of the city and be horrified by a way of life that to me is both acceptable and even desirable, or if it's just genuinely more ambiguous than the person who wrote the afterword realized...

I do see the seeds of alienation, the unnaturalness, the coldness, the artificiality here, and the rare images of the countryside are so much softer and warmer--but some of those lushly detailed splash pages, the delicately colored renderings of the city streets--I can't help but see them as beautiful, and as legitimate sites for human happiness. Sinclair's The Jungle this is not.

By the way, I really loved this book, especially the art. And the aforementioned vision of the city that maybe I'm not supposed to like, but I do. I enjoyed all of the books in this post, but this was my favorite by a mile).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Heyer, Georgette: Venetia.

Bujold, Lois McMaster: The Sharing Knife: Passage
(the more I read in this series, the more I like it).


Graphic novels/cartoons:

Various: The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker.


Manga:

Ashihara Hinako: The Sand Chronicles vol. 2

Nakamura Yoshiki: Skip*Beat vols. 12-13.

Tsukaba Sakura: Penguin Revolution vol. 5
(I've having some trouble maintaining my suspension of disbelief vis a vis the implausibly successful cross-dressing. But it's still utterly charming).

Akino Matsuri: Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo vol. 2.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Austen, Jane: Persuasion
(Now I can't cancel my Netflix account, dammit; I have to see the BBC adaptation of this. Tangentially, I caught about half of the Pride and Prejudice movie while I was driving down to Austin, and was reminded that it's my favorite-ever adaptation of that book; seeing it just makes me feel happy, with the warmth and the romance and the livestock running around the yard of the Bennet house. It's so gloriously of the physical world of early 19th century English country life, and Keira Knightley is Elizabeth, and I don't care what anybody thinks).



Manga:


Banno Negi: S.S. ASTRO
(it's like Azumanga Daioh only focused more on the teachers instead of the students, not as good, more fanservice-y, and with more lesbianism, or at least more of the sexual aspect of lesbianism, if that doesn't sound totally wacked. It's fun! I liked this far better than the other school days setting 4-panel komi manga I picked up; l that one was about students who were drawn so more I actually felt uncomfortable. And it's nice to read about adults).


Mashiba Shin: Yumekui Kenbun Nightmare Inspector
(one of the mysterious-little-shops manga [livejournal.com profile] meganbmoore listed; I've actually been meaning to check it out for awhile, but it was the mention of the Taisho-era setting that caught my attention. I've been fascinated by early 20th century settings for awhile, and after reading Murder Most Modern, Taisho Japan particularly. The art is very good, although the character designs are very generic. I was just looking at volume 2 of Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo and remembering how much I love Akino's stringy profiles, and her unique, distinctive style of drawing. This is pretty, but the characters are very bland and generic looking; combine that with writing not as subtle or clever as it needs to be, and it ends up unmemorable.

I dig the setting and the premise,though, so I might follow it. I doubt the designs will change much, but the writing could improve).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
To celebrate the god-knows-how-long-it'll-last return of my internet--i.e., the neighbor's unprotected wireless network, because my paid DSL? shyeah, as if--I stayed up for three hours last night downloading practically every scanlation project available at DragonVoice (they like the shoujo that I like) and then went up to bed in a manga mood and stayed up two more hours reading stuff I actually legitimately paid for. Reviews! Reviews for you! Nothing overtly spoilerly.

Kamen Tantei volume 1 )


Hot Gimmick, volume 2 )
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
I have been studiously avoiding the manga section at work for a couple of weeks, lest I be tempted to spend money I don't have on books Idon't need right now. I have not bought Death Note v.7, or Skip Beat v.2, or--and this kills me as surely as my crappy shoes are killing the nerve in my right big toe--Aishiteruze Baby v3. ieieieieie. I do not want to know if there might be more Nana or Kaze Hikaru to be had. I am not venturing into Seven Seas titles this month, as I'd vaguely planned. This month, I am thrifty, and cooking every single last meal, and stretching every dollar.

However, when, on my lunch break, I stumbled on a cardboard display of new Tokyopop titles waiting in the back room, among them Genju no Seiza, I immediately went out and bought a copy with the remains of my food budget for the week.

Which proves there is such a thing as not enough money for books, but no such thing as not enough money for books by Matsuri Akino.

January 2017

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