cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (it falls on you and you die)
Romance:

Beverly, Jo:
Skylark
Secrets of the Night
Lord Wraybourne's Betrothed
An Unwilling Bride

(Beverly sold the premise of this one--uptight aristocratic dickwad weds illegitimate bluestocking--much more effectively than I would have guessed, based on what I'd seen of Beth and Lucien from other books. What I took away from it, though, was a strong desire to see even more of Eleanor and Nick. I just ship 'em so hard that all other Rogues books have subsequently deteriorated into vehicles for more fleeting scenes from the continuing saga of Eleanor and Nick.)

Balogh, Mary:
Slightly Married
Slightly Wicked



YA:

Collins, Suzanne:

The Hunger Games
(I already texted and e-mailed my sister with many a squee regarding the amazingness of this book--she was quite right about how un-put-downable it becomes once you hit a certain plot development early on--so I don't have much left for you. It's sort of a populist, dystopian, Battle Royale scenario, narrated by a very compelling, intelligent protagonist who is not a reliable narrator. Collins is brilliant, and I can't recommend this book hard enough.)

Catching Fire
(Sequel to The Hunger Games. Not as world-rocking as HG, because it's a sequel, but it moves the story along pretty well, and the ending made me want to bash my head against the nearest slab of concrete. I am very glad that the third book, Mockingjay, is due out in August.

A little bit of spoilery stuff. )
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Romance:

Bourne, Joanna: My Lord and Spymaster
(This was definitely not as good as The Spymaster's Lady. I liked Jess enormously, and whatsisname, Hawke? But I never warmed to the male lead. And the idea that Jess, who was in every way a full partner in her father's business, would actually give up her very successful career there--I mean, she basically built the accounting system--to marry that prick left me with a sour taste in my mouth. It was quite the let-down after Spymaster's Lady).


Fantasy:

Turner, Megan Whalen: A Conspiracy of Kings
(GOD I was not expecting that ending. I can't really discuss it without massive spoilers but...wow, is this ever not how I was expecting things to turn out, not after The Thief, not even after Queen of Attolia, not even after King of Attolia. And yet...it feels like less of a stretch than it might have; it is in some ways a very organic development from things that happened in Queen.

Though I haven't heard anything about another book, I am expecting at least one more. I get a very strong feeling that Turner isn't done with this story).


Manga:

Anno Moyoco: Sugar Sugar Rune vol. 3
(Anno? You have a genius).

CLAMP: Wish vols. 1-2
(To be continued! Except not, I think? It somehow reminded me of a You Higuri manga, but nicer, because this is fluffy CLAMP, not horribly bloody death CLAMP. Anyway, it's toothless enough that I don't really care whether or not there's any more story, and whether I ever get to read it if there is).

CLAMP: RG Veda vol. 1
(I totally only picked this up in the library because of the storyline in Tsubasa with Yasha and Ashura, but reading it just made me more confused. Horrible bloody death CLAMP, obviously. I really liked the bit where they stand around casually arguing while the five-year-old gazes thirty feet up at where a dead woman has been impaled on the wall by a spear, her blood running in a great swath down onto the floor, then reaches out and puts his hand into her blood, tastes it, smiles, and has another bout of evil-spirit possession. At which point the adults start paying attention again. See? This is what happens when you leave children around the corpses of people who've been horribly murdered.

It doesn't really make any more sense than Wish--the events of the first half of the book could have taken all of ten minutes, for all the textual and visual clues as I had with regards to pacing and the passage of time--but it certainly is more interesting to look at. And Gigei was cool. Too bad she's also dead (like about 70% of all the characters, male and female, who appeared in this volume). Man, this thing has already exceeded the entire body count of Hamlet, and this is just volume 1).


CLAMP: Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle vols. 1-17
(as I already said. God, I mean, this thing is captivating. I stand in great peril of it eating my brain).

Ishikawa Masayuki: Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture vol. 1
(I thought the germs would like, have personalities. I'm actually kind of glad that they don't; the personalities of the actual humans are interesting enough).

Mizushiro Setona: After School Nightmare vol. 10
(Okay, that was weird. But why not? It's not like the initial premise made a lot of sense anyway).

Ono Natsume: Ristorante Paradiso.

Tanaka Masashi: Gon vol. 6.

Unita Yumi: Bunny Drop vol. 1.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (books)
Higuri You: Angel's Coffin
(I bought this without even bothering to flip through it, because it's You Higuri! And I love her! I have to remember not to do that any more).


Higuri You: Cantarella vol. 10
(annnnny time you feel like finishing this, Higuri...

Please?).


Tezuka Osamu: Dororo vol. 3
(not much of finish to the series, but the ride is entirely too enjoyable to for me to want to complain).


Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 7
(C'mon, what the fuck happened to Kenji, man? AAAARGH I need the rest of this series yesterday).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (...okay then)
Mystery:

Christie, Agatha: The Mysterious Affair at Styles
(Oh, Christie, you racist, xenophobic, conservative twit. You will just keep on doing your racist, xenophobic, conservative thing, won't you? But you wrote a lot, and you sold a lot, and now you're dead, and no one ever expected better of you, so no one ever bothers to call you on it. Sometimes I hate you for that.

Also, you are only okay as a writer, and for all your work, you really only wrote a tiny handful of books that are truly standouts in your preferred genre. Bite me, Agatha Christie).


Fantasy/romance:

Bujold, Lois McMaster: The Sharing Knife: Horizon
(I was in the shower when I had this sudden thought that oh hey, Bujold set up this world where the local predators atop the food chain, malices, subsist and thrive on birth-energies, and the only known method of destroying a malice requires the harnessing of death-energy. I find this quite fascinating, given both Bujold's general interest in reproductive issues as they pertain to both women's health and the construction of self-identity, and her regular thematic revisiting of parenthood, with its ability to exalt or to destroy the parent.

She probably covered this in the first book, but I read that years ago and don't remember.

I liked this, and I think the preceding volume of The Sharing Knife, more than I've liked any of Bujold's other fantasy novels excepting only The Curse of Chalion. Wow, did this series ever grow on me!

I adore Arkady, who would have been a jerk in anyone else's books, and I ended up unduly fond of Barr, probably because he was a jerk who outgrew it, and that trope appeals to me more than it has any right to).


Manga:

Ariyoshi Kyoko: Swan, vol. 3
(Every time I read a volume of the classic ballet manga, Swan, I have to fight the urge to run out and buy the entire series so I can finish it tomorrow. Then I forget about it for six months).

Midorikawa Yuki: Natsume's Book of Friends, vol. 1.

Ono Natsume: not simple
(the art IS simple, but not the plot! Stuff like this is why, when I was ranting about the potential glories of that Matt Thorn/Fantagraphics manga line thing, I couldn't quite bring myself to claim that they'd bring over stuff we'd never seen before and would never see otherwise. I mean, have you seen the stuff that Viz puts in its Signature line? Quality. It's totally one of those high-end scanlation groups run by hardcore manga geeks with superb taste, except that it's legit. It's stuff like this that made it reeeaal easy for me to pretty much give up on fansubs and scanlations. And that they also have a line that picks up lovely titles like Natsume's Book of Friends, i.e. the Shoujo Beat line).

Otsuka Eiji, story, and Yamazaki Housui, art: The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, vol. 10
(Dark Horse and Carl Gustav Horn also helped).

Toriko Gin: Song of the Hanging Sky, vol. 2
(this, too. The reason I fangirl all this stuff so hard, btw, is that manga is one of the only things I tend to buy instead of renting or borrowing, and I am presently fiscally unable to venture past titles that I think are just totally the shit to titles that are actual shit*).


*I would never, for instance, actually buy any of Agatha Christie's racist, sexist, xenophobic, conservative books except for the tiny handful that are genuinely innovative and clever. I mean, it's not like she's an actual master of genre writing like Stout or Heyer. The woman wrote fucking literary tissue paper stamped with her usual ugly nationalism and not even saved by a nice period denunciation of fascism. I cannot, I just cannot get over a book where a major character turns out to be a German Jew spying for Nazi Germany. That is so Agatha Christie. I fucking hate that woman.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (why is there spring in this winter?)
Non fiction:

Skloot, Rebecca, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

(Everybody should read this book. Especially if they work in medicine, or any life science, or for that matter, any social science, but even if they don't; everybody should read this book. Everyone, bar none, has a stake or a potential stake in what the material of this book covers.

Rebecca Skloot pretty much now a personal heroine of mine for this work--for doing it, for doing it right, for taking the time to do it right, and to do right by Henrietta and her family. I feel that this is almost a case study in how to write about an important medical subject and to decently represent the human interests involved--in this case, the woman, her life and her death, her circumstances, and her family, past and present. Henrietta Lacks is one of the most important people ever born in the world. I'm not exaggerating. She deserves nothing less than this book, and probably much more.

I come from a social sciences background to begin with, plus we just covered ethics in that silly mandatory information evaluation class I'm taking right now, so ethics was kind of on the brain anyway; I am practically humming with the importance of treating human beings like human beings in your work, whatever your work may be. I hope this book ends up as mandatory reading in a million college classes, maybe high school classes, too, and teaches people about the intersection of science and humanity and ethics, and the right way to deal with the human beings you'll be working with if you do science. Or, you know, anything at all in your entire life).


Novels/prose books:

Mystery:

Stout, Rex: Trio for Blunt Instruments.


Comics/graphic novels:

Foglio, Phil and Kaja: Girl Genius, book five: Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess.


Manga:

Urasawa Naoki: Pluto vol 7.
(sob sob sob. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I just, I knew this was coming but oh man I hoped and pretended and looked askance because this is an adaptation, and Urasawa can do whatever he wants! He didn't have to! Oh gosh. I have to go lie down now.

By the way, I read this volume in ten minutes flat, standing next to my bookcase with its stacks of unread manga, fist jammed into my mouth, barely breathing. Hoping I was wrong.

sob.)
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (autumn travels)
Romance:

Beverley, Jo: The Rogue's Return
(Better than Dangerous Joy; not as good as The Secret Wedding).


Mystery:

Stout, Rex: Three for the Chair
(includes "A Window for Death," "Immune to Murder," and "Too Many Detectives").


Graphic novels/comics:

Cooke, Darwyn: Parker: The Hunter (based on Richard Stark's prose novel)
(Umm. Great art. Icky, kinda misogynistic story).

Barnes, Bill, and Gene Ambaum: Reader's Advisory : Unshelved 7
(I bought this at ALA Midwinter, along with a truly fabulous "What Would Dewey Do?" shirt. It's autographed by Bill and Gene! The book, not the shirt, that is.

The forecast: scattered humor).


Manga/Manwha:

Azuma Kiyohiko: Yotsuba vol. 7.

KookHwa Huh, writer, and Sujin Kim, artist, Pig Bride vol. 1.

Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 6.

Yazawa Ai, Nana vol. 20
(Aaaand there's that spoiler omg).

Yoshinaga Fumi, All My Darling Daughters.

Yoshinaga Fumi, Ooku vol. 2
(sob. ...sorry, I can't help it. For some reasons, the stories in this series make me want to cry my eyes out and keep me from sleeping at night. Frickin' Yoshinaga).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Romance:

Beverley, Jo: Christmas Angel.

Crusie, Jennifer: Bet Me
(both Crusie and this book particularly are major favorites of a friend of mine. I didn't love the book nearly as much as her, but it's a good book. It's easy for me to see why she loves it so much, knowing her--I bet she imprinted on Min like a baby duckling on its mama).

Phillips, Susan Elizabeth: Natural Born Charmer
(soooo much better than the other Phillips I tried, What I Did For Love. I fell in love with the first chapter, cooled slightly over the course of the book, but was consistently impressed by the way Phillips portrayed Blue's artistry--she showed it very naturally and consistently, in a way that made Blue feel like a real person).


YA:

Ono Fuyumi: The Twelve Kingdoms: The Vast Spread of the Seas
(apparently between the initial meeting of Naokawa/Shoryuu/En and Rokuta/Enki five hundred years ago and their current state of their uber-competent rule and the moderate harmony of their interpersonal relationship, there were a few decades of dissonance. The book is about that, as well as about their initial meeting, which I already know from the anime.

Spoilers. )


Graphic novels:

Lutes, Jason: Berlin: City of Smoke: Book 2.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Mystery:

Heyer, Georgette: Detection Unlimited.


Romance:

Beverley, Jo:
The Secret Wedding
An Unsuitable Man
Dangerous Joy
(After reading The Secret Wedding, I waxed ecstatic to several people about how the newly-discovered-for-me Beverly is the closest thing to reading Georgette Heyer Regencies I'd found yet. After reading An Unsuitable Man and Dangerous Joy, then going to visit my parents in Austin and reading a couple more Heyer romances and mysteries, I have to take back the comparison--Beverly's one of the better romance novelists I've run across, but Heyer's pedestal sits higher still, and Beverly's really not close at all.

The Secret Wedding was pretty awesome in terms of plotting, pacing, prose, sexiness and characterization, and I was impressed by her ability to address modern feminist perspectives and concerns--rape, women's general lack of independence, agency, and financial power in 19th century England, etc--in a way that was not jarring or ahistorical. She did what I thought was an pretty good job of balancing romantic fantasy and historical reality. I could have lived without the cute magic animal, but it was also less intrusive and ridiculous here than in Dangerous Joy.

Dangerous Joy and An Unsuitable Man are among the better genre romances I've read--I haven't read that many, except for Heyer, who really is in a class by herself--but didn't live up to the high expectations I had of Beverly after The Secret Wedding. C'est la vie. I'll continue to look for books by her to read, since if a lesser book by Beverly isn't necessarily better than 90% of everything else out there, it's still a decent read, and her better books are pretty damn good.)


Heyer, Georgette: These Old Shades
(the best part about reading this was how my mother, who probably hasn't read it in years, could still remember the names and roles of all the characters in it, and could recall the context of every little bit that I read aloud. I know I can't do that for many prolific genre authors who primarily write stand-alone works with no carryover characters. I can't even remember the names of most of the protagonists unless they're in the title).



Comics/Graphic novels:

Kafka, Franz, author, Peter Kuper, artist/adaptor: The Metamorphosis

Lutes, Jason: Berlin: City of Stones: Book One.

Geary, Rick: The Adventures of Blanche
(Geary has never seemed so weird to me).



Manga:

Asano Inio: What a Wonderful World vol. 2.

Ito Junji: Flesh Colored Horror.

Hatsu Akiko: Devil in the Water.

Mori, Kaoru: Emma vol. 10.

Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 5.

Urushibara Yuki: Mushishi vol. 6.

Yasuhiko Yoshikazu: Joan.

Yoshinaga Fumi: Ooku vol. 1
(words cannot express how much I adore the Shogun. Holy shit, man. I like Yoshinaga's male characters just fine, but if she decided to write nothing but female characters from now on, I would have no complaints).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (woman with hamster)
Fantasy:
Weis, Margaret, and Tracy Hickman: Dragons of the Hourglass Mage
(I read a short review of this that went something to the effect of, "There are good Raistlin books, and bad Raistlin books, and this is one of the bad ones, totally not worth your time." So I immediately requested it from the library, because it's about RAISTLIN MAJERE, dude.

Even at their best, Dragonlance books are never exactly what I would call good, and this is no exception, but I'm not gonna lie: Weis and Hickman's books have, over the years, brought me countless hours of unironic pleasure, and Raistlin Majere is one of those characters I randomly fixated on when I was young, and will never, ever, not love. I read it in one go when I was sick and bedbound the other day, and couldn't concentrate on crossword puzzles).


Romance:

Dunlop, Barbara: Beauty and the Billionaire
(this is the ebook romance I read when I was supposed to be looking at ebook cataloging, and I must say, it was surprisingly decent. The prose was okay, the sexual tension was good, and--in what was a pleasant surprise to me--the heroine was a successful professional whose career and whose dedication to her career path remained relevant for the entire book. Even when she went to Paris for a makeover. Our heroine, Sinclair is a very good PR manager at a cosmetics company who's being upstaged by a less-competant but more fashionable rival in the company, and when she and her billionaire beau boss talk it over, they decided that the best way to fix that was to give her a more stylish image which would better match the company's target demographic, women in Sinclair's age range who dress stylishly. Given the nature of the industry and her job, I am okay with this idea. )
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 (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Mystery:

Stout, Rex:
The Golden Spiders
Gambit
The Father Hunt
Some Buried Caesar
(Lily Rowan's introductory novel. Long rambling on Lily Rowan and Stout's women.) )


Manga:

Urasawa Naoki: Pluto vol. 4.

Tanaka Masashi: Gon 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:

Mystery:

Stout, Rex:
--The Doorbell Rang (NW. The best caper they ever pulled),
--Champagne for One (NW),
--Fer-de-Lance (you'd never guess that this was the first Wolfe story ever, if you didn't know. Except that Archie keeps saying, "As Saul Panzer would say, 'lovin' babe!'" and we know now that he wouldn't. And neither would Archie. There's a bit of slang from the 30s that didn't have legs...),
--Death of a Dude (all I'm gonna say is notice how Stout never once makes any reference to the sleeping arrangements of Archie and Lily while they're on vacation in Montana. Which says it all),
--Curtains for Three: A Nero Wolfe Threesome (a short story collection containing The Gun with Wings, Bullet for One, and Disguise for Murder),
--Five of a Kind: The Third Nero Wolfe Omnibus (containing The Rubber Band, In the Best Families, and Three Doors to Death. The first two are either novels or novellas, I believe published independently, and the last is a short story collection itself, containing Man Alive, Omit Flowers, and Door to Death. In the Best Families is my favorite, as it is the notorious book in which Archie and Wolfe are split up for an extended period of time, and we get to see how Archie does on his own. Pretty well, as you might imagine. It's also the conclusion of the sort of mini-Arnold Zeck arc. There's generally no harm in reading these all out of order, but I wouldn't have minded reading all the Zeck stories together, or at least in order...I've still not read their second encounter with him).

Stout, Rex: The Broken Vase
(a Tecumsah Fox mystery).


Manga:


Takaya Natsuki: Fruits Basket vol. 23
(I seem to have skipped vol. 22. Oops).

Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vols. 2-3, Pluto vol. 3.

Yazawa Ai: Nana vol. 17.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Graphic novels:

Slade, Christian: Korgi v. 2
(Sadly, not as compelling as volume 1, although I don't think it's precisely a crafting issue. And it's still about fire-breathing giant corgis and their human pals, which is wonderful.

Sprout, for the record, looks exactly like my parents' red-and-white Pembroke Welsh Corgi, whom I raised from a pup and helped to train).



Manga:

Yoshinaga Fumi: Flower of Life v. 4
(I recall hearing, prior to reading this myself, comments from people that this seemed like an odd left turn in the series, or a strange way to end it. I suppose I can see why people might feel that way, but it neither surprised me, nor seemed strange or inappropriate to me. The series kicked off with a shockingly upbeat introduction to a kid whose life had been derailed by a life-threatening illness; it occasionally revisited some of the consequences of the illness--light-heartedly, but sincerely. Thematically, it makes perfect sense to go back to that, and touch at some of the things we were happy to ignore at the beginning; that's also pretty standard for Yoshinaga, who loves to make you rethink your assumptions. I dig that kind of thing in storytelling, which is part of why I love her, and come to think of it, may be an aspect of what I like in mystery.

Incidentally, I'm still the only person I know who actually liked the ending of the Planetes manga just as it was, and thought it was perfectly appropriate for the material, although I won't claim I liked it better than the ending of the Planetes anime, which I adore without reserve).


Kawakami Junko: Galaxy Girl, Panda Boy
(josei manga from Tokyopop's defunct Passion Fruit line, under which they published also Mari Okazaki's Sweat and Honey, which I liked much better than this. The whole time I was reading this, I was absolutely convinced I must have read other work by Kawakami--her linework, particularly in the lines of her mouths, feels incredibly familiar to me--but I have subsequently been unable to find the name of any title by her, licensed or scanlated, that I know I've read. I went and flipped through all of my josei manga to see if maybe I was just confusing another artist's work for hers, but nothing. It's a mystery).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Mystery:

Stout, Rex: And Be a Villain (Wolfe),
Before Midnight (Wolfe),
Black Mountain (Wolfe's little Roman Holiday. Eastern European holiday, that is, and a follow-up of sorts to Over My Dead Body),
Three at Wolfe's Door (Wolfe),
The Final Deduction (Wolfe),
Bad for Business (Tecumsah Fox. Fox is like a blend of Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe, and although he is as awesome as neither, he's still pretty entertaining),
Double for Death (more Fox),
Alphabet Hicks (Neither a Wolfe or a Fox mystery, and in the feel of the reading, just a little nastier than normal Stout. Prior to the events of the book, Hicks, the protagonist, actually suffered permanent consequences of the sort Cramer is constantly threatening Archie with, and he's bitter, and so is the book),
A Family Affair (Nero Wolfe, and the darkest Stout I have ever read. The introduction claims it's Stout's Nixon novel, which I believe. Nixon comes up in the book, but I think what that really refers to is not Nixon, but the jarring, unexpected, and upsetting betrayal that the plot hinges on. This reminded me of reading Georgette Heyer's Penhallow--it's a disturbing work from a writer who is normally fun and comfortable. It also has what I think might be the single most romantic scene I've ever read in a Stout book, when Archie goes to visit Lily. They're both so self-possessed and capable, and their non-exclusive relationship so relentlessly casual that to see Archie, feeling vulnerable, go to Lily is impossibly affecting).


Graphic novels/bandes dessines:

Larcenet, Manu: Ordinary Victories: What is Precious.

Rodriguez, Jason, editor: Postcards: True Stories that Never Happened
(Jesus, this was boring).


Manga:

Azuma Hideo: Disappearance Diary
(also boring).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
News! Noah Berlatsky of The Hooded Utilitarian has kindly invited me to be a guest blogger at HU for a few weeks while Bill Randall is on vacation. I'll start next week. I'd tell you what I'm planning to write about, but at this very moment, I haven't decided. Probably manga, but who knows.


Prose books:

Mystery:


Stout, Rex: Prisoner's Base
(wow, one of the best Stouts yet. There are a couple of great moments along with the standard snappy voice and the wit--one genuinely creepy, which is not standard Stout, and one where something gets under Archie's skin enough that it bleeds over into his narrative voice. Also, a very nice twist on the normal Wolfe/Goodwin standard operating procedures).

Stout, Rex: Death of a Doxy
(this features one of Stout's best female characters, in my mind, and I generally quite enjoy the way he writes women to begin with, especially the witty ones who go dancing with Archie.

I was bummed when I finished Prisoner's Base, because it's the last Stout in my local library, and I now have to wait for my library network holds to arrive. Yesterday, I was looking around the library for something as portable as a Bantam paperback and as engaging as a Nero Wolfe mystery to take with me to work, and finding zilch. Sometimes I underrate authors like Stout and Heyer, who are pretty fluffy genre authors--fluffy they are, but they're thecreme de la creme of genre fluff, and it's surprisingly hard to find work that good that hits the right notes. I'm picky about my narrative voices, at least when it comes to light entertainment, and Stout and Heyer have exactly the kind I like. That's harder to find than a decently written plot, says I).


Graphic novels/comics:

El Rassi, Toufic: Arab in America
(Last Gasp. Holy shit, was this ever depressing. I had a hard time getting through it, because every page just drained the energy out of me. It's not that the difficulties and indignities, profound and petty, of being a member of an unpopular minority group are so surprising to me, but being reminded of them is still a major downer even when you are intellectually aware of them.

The form itself is nothing exciting, kind of stiff and distant. Like a lot of non-fiction, though, it gets an additional weight from the knowledge that the experiences El Rassi relates really happened to him, and not so long ago, or so distantly. Also, there's something about the way he draws himself that crawls into my heart, a little--dark-eyed, withdrawn, reserved, sometimes with fear, sometimes with anger and alienation, trudging through the trials of his life, confused and aching.

He's got it way more together than the image of himself in the book, though--he couldn't have put this together if all that confusion and aching hadn't produced a lot of insight).


Katchor, Ben: Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District
(This one, I gave up on. It's mildly interesting, but although I can enjoy its brand of ironic absurdity in small doses, an endless stream of it is just boring. It doesn't build on itself in any way that I could see--I don't really see why it needed to be a book).


Manga:

Tezuka Osamu: Astro Boy vol. 5.

Hiwatari Saki: Tower of the Future vols. 6-7
(I shoul read more than a volume of this every six months, because I keep losing the plot, and Hiwatari's twisty plots are part of her appeal).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Non-fiction prose:

Nicholson, Geoff: The Lost Art of Walking
(didn't finish it--I don't quite remember why now, but I think it was because it was sort of boring and mostly about the author's own experiences walking, rather than being a more general treatise on the act of walking. The latter would have been informative; the former is pretty dull).


Mystery:

Stout, Rex: A Right To Die
(While I appreciate that Stout probably meant well in making race the theme of this book, he probably shouldn't have, because he does a lot of dumb things. The bulk of his work predated the Civil Rights Movement, and racial relations seem to have crept up on him in the last decade of his very long and prolific career. However, the various wince-inducing race-related moments in this book have nothing, absolutely nothing, on the introduction by David Stout--no relation to Rex--which was written in 1994, and kicks off by saying that although there's nothing wrong with a white woman and a black man in a relationship, we all have to look deep into our hearts in order to realize that. Oh, David Stout, FUCK YOU. Rex Stout was a man of his time belatedly recognizing the significance of Civil Rights, and his racial sins were sins of omission, not something more toxic. And he was trying. There is no racist apology in the book itself that equals David Stout's implication that interracial relationships are shocking and taboo and morally troublesome. To to say something that asinine in 1994, in the service of introducing a not particularly transgressive work? Go to hell).

Stout, Rex: And Four to Go, Black Orchids, Trouble in Triplicate
(all very enjoyable, all lacking the mild ambition of discussing race in any way, all lacking people of color, which is pretty standard for Stout. As I said, sins of omission. I'm white and don't know much about the history and racial politics of New York circa 1930-1960, so that tends to be easy for me to ignore).


Graphic novels/comics:

Bechdel, Alison: Dykes and Sundry Other Carbon-Based Life-Forms to Watch Out For.

Rabagliati, Michel: Paul goes fishing
(less about fishing and more about the heartbreak of miscarriage. It's a good book, but not all that well structured. The other Paul books were stronger).

Robinson, Alex: Tricked
(Hated the rock star guy--the romance was underwhelming, and I felt no sympathy for him at all, nor interest in how his sudden fixation on Lily made his life better. It didn't make him a better or more interesting person, it just made him happy, and I don't care. Generally, I hated or barely liked most of the characters, and the conceit of their lives all becoming intertwined until they culminate in that one climactic moment--eh. I've seen it done much better).

Delisle, Guy: Burma Chronicles
(waaaaaaay better than Shenzhen, in many ways, and more of a genuine pleasure than Pyongyang, which was almost purely upsetting. For whatever reason--because he was here with a wife and child, because his wife was deeply involved in humanitarian work in Burma, and the related politics of that, because the length of his stay and his more relaxed lifestyle permitted it--Delisle actually seems to have gotten to know people in Burma, and learned about their lives and culture. While China's political system is by no means ideal to me, Delisle's criticisms of Shenzhen seemed, well...shallow, uninformed, ethnocentric, and lacking in real critical perspective--there is legitimate criticism of China to be made, quite a lot of it, but he wasn't doing it well, and he came across as totally uninterested in people's actual lives. Not the case here. Although life in Burma is pretty depressing and scary in many ways, same as in Pyongyang, this is a much warmer book nevertheless--the description of the betel-nut chewing, the Water Festival, the love of children that made Delisle's infant son very popular in his neighborhood, the deeply emotional, quiet reverence that the locals hold for Aung San Suu Kyi, sitting silently under house arrest in a decades-long act of political protest--all of this made for a much richer, more interesting, less ethnocentric book than Shenzhen. This one, I can whole-heartedly recommend).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Manga/manwha


Tezuka Osamu: Phoenix vol. 3: Yamato/Space, and Phoenix vol. 5: Resurrection
(the latter in particular is kind of sticking with me. The former was surprisingly creepy.

Tangent: one of the two and a half panels I attended at Anime Boston was The Absolute Worst of Osamu Tezuka, which featured some entertainingly bad stuff, and some stuff that was actually really good. The intro to Phoenix 27somethingsomething, for instance: the female robot who turns into all sorts of random mecha shit in a sexually charged sequence--it's certainly weird as hell and laden with all kinds of...of...things, but it's gorgeously choreographed and animated, and there's a real sense of intent there; I'd love to see it unpacked. Or the massive box-office flop that was Cleopatra--I'd love, love, love to see it with some decent subtitles, by the way--yes, the rotoscoping was hideous and ill-concieved, but the opening past sequence was one of the most lush, colorful, energized pieces of 70s animation I've seen in awhile. And, so, Caesar was blue and there were anachronistic bathroom jokes. This is Tezuka. You're surprised? That was how Tezuka rolled, bitch).


Tezuka Osamu: Black Jack vols. 2-3
(dingos did not eat his kidneys!).


Yamamoto Naoki: Dance Till Tomorrow vols. 3-5
(fuck, VIZ did great work way back in the day; this is such a cool title, the likes of which you don't see anymore--silly, sexy, adult characters with a peculiar blend of cleverness and manipulativeness and heart that always makes me think of the 80s, and that surprising undercurrent genuine emotion that makes it as affectingly romantic as the sweetest, sincerest shoujo. The translation in this thing thrills me--it's so very funny and clever and engrossing. It reminds me of the experience of reading Ranma 1/2 and Maison Ikkoku; witty language to match the witty art. I miss that. I wish it wasn't so unfashionable now to actually fucking adapt a translation so that it can convey the spirit of the material along with the literal meaning. Speaking of which,)


Otsuka Eiji, writer, Yamazaki Housui, artist: Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service vol. 8
(I don't want to downplay the fundamental merits of this title, which are numerous, but it occurred to me during the con, as I pawed through the library's thousand+ books, more than half of which I'd probably hand-picked, that one of the great pleasures of Kurosagi is the quality of the translation: it's witty and lively and the English is the natural, conversational English of fluent native speakers. That's so uncommon as to really stand out, and I think that's a large part of its appeal. Dark Horse, Carl Gustav Horn, I love your work).


Yozaburo Kanari, story, Sato Fumiya, art: The Kindaichi Case Files: The Mummy's Curse
(OMG [livejournal.com profile] retsuko, you're right, this is the most absurd revenge plot imaginable. Just...just shoot them, Jesus Christ, stab them, poison them, garrote them. Hell, hack them up with an ax; it'd be more straightforward.

By the way, at the Edogawa Ranpo panel at Anime Boston, the panelist, who clearly knew his stuff otherwise, thought the Kindaichi Case Files were actually adaptations of Kosuke Kindaichi stories. Presumably, he hadn't read them, since I think they have even more tenuous a connection to the original Kindaichi than The Beekeeper's Apprentice has to Sherlock Holmes. Not that this matters in the slightest. It was a decent panel, although I knew the subject well enough that I didn't learn much that was new to me, and the audience--a particularly stereotypical crowd of male otaku, all six of them, one of whom repeatedly derailed the panel by sharing his obsession with Nazis--were a little creepy. And dammit, they stank. I felt genuinely uncomfortable in the room because of them).


Nakamura: Skip*Beat vols. 16-17
(I already gushed in [livejournal.com profile] meganbmoore's journal about these. You know, the art in these things is nothing to write home about, and the pacing is too slow--less happens in a whole volume than in a single chapter of Nana--but by god, Kyoko is one of the best female characters I've ever run across in manga. The author permits her a really unique kind of inner strength, something I'm just not used to seeing in manga--a sharpness that, once exposed, isn't dulled for anything, not even for the object of admiration).


Yazawa Ai: Nana vol. 16
(but, thanks to an overly enthusiastic scanlations-reading fan, I am now spoiled for a certain major event beyond this volume. Dammit. Oh well, I can't claim I saw it coming, but I can't claim to be surprised, either.

Speculate in the comments on what that spoiler might be, and I will eat your kidneys like a ravenous dingo.

I'm also spoiled for every major character death in Naruto in the last twenty volumes, which also ticks me off, but I admit that being 20 volumes behind the English adaptation and all, I haven't got much grounds for complaint there).


Kye Young Chon: DVD vol. 1
(I hadn't realized this was only volume 1. I'd been meaning to get around to it ever since I bought it for the library last year...a year and a half of the build-up of anticipation did not serve it well. It's okay, I guess? Not my favorite manwha of the year).
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 (woman with hamster)
Romance

Quinn, Julia: Romancing Mister Bridgerton
(this was off my friend's A shelf. It's not what I would think of as an "A" book, but it was certainly better than the last one).


Mystery

Smith, Alexander McCall, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
('twas ok. Unless they get plottier after this, I don't know how much I'd want to read--the love letter to Africa is nice, but not on the level of say, Kipling's Kim, which fits probably into the same sort of cultural framework and also has slightly rambling narrative, but is such genius that I always forget the qualifiers).


Graphic novels/comics

Dickens, Charles, writer, and Rick Geary, artist/adapter: Great Expectations
(abridged, but I got the plot, and Geary is always worth it.

Someday, I will do right by Dickens and read at least one of his actual original short stories or novels, instead of some adaptation or pastiche, I swear).


DeMatteis, J.M. and Mark Badger: Greenberg the Vampire
(nice art, silly story.

A) The next time I read some ooh-aren't-we-transgressive "reworking" of the vampire legend that kicks off with "Bram Stoker had it all wrong! Let me, a real vampire, tell it to you right," I will commit murder, perhaps in some suitably blood-draining thematic fashion. It's not that I'm particularly attached to Stoker or his book--I've never even made it through the novel, and I'm not a devotee of vampire lore--but it's a meta framing device that's never worked for me, like, at all. Vampires are fictional to begin with, dude; you're not bound to defend your reworking of vampire lore--and by the way, you are not transgressive, and you are not original, you are about the seventeen thousandth person to rework vampire lore since Stoker came up with the prototype to begin with, and it's all tired and hokey. Get over it! You were the one who wanted to work with vampires. If your vampires aren't like Dracula, whatever; just don't write 'em like Dracula. Change whatever you like. This whole demythologizing a fiction to serve a different fiction thing is stupid. Stoker created a popular image to bounce off of, so did Anne Rice,* and we've had "Rice had it all wrong! I'm a vampire, I should know" since, probably other steps, too, in the vampire chain, that I don't fucking care about. It's how you know an work's really carved its way into the popular consciousness, when other authors can't seem to tackle similar material without inserting meta disclaimers into the narrative. Jesus. It's so wussy.

Personally, I can't wait for the Twilight references to start popping up in future fictional works. "Meyer had it all wrong, buddy: I'm a vampire, I should know! Here's my super-original story! Vampires don't sparkle! They do glow in the dark, though. And they can't live on animal blood, but they can live on fish blood."

I am asking all future writers of vampire stories to shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up in the future. Just write your fucking vampire story. You are allowed to pretend no one else ever wrote a vampire story before. It's okay. No one will mind.

B) Why is Lilith so interested in this dweeb? She's a fucking demon goddess. I'm not into the dweeb character enough to not be bothered that this is a sadly transparent personal fantasy of being the random super-special guy who attracts multiple hot supernatural lovers who are into him because it's Destiny. And it's not a funny enough book to make up for the wincing bits. Whatever).


Foglio, Phil: Buck Godot, Zap Gun for Hire 2: PSmith
(oh thank god, a good book).

Carlton, Bronwyn: The Big Book of Death
(Paradox Press. Kept me up at night. Not a good book to relax with. *shudder* But as always, the Big Book of n is fun.

Um. About spontaneous human combustion. Really? I can't quite bring myself to believe it. Since this is a controversial topic, it's one of those things Wikipedia is useless on).


*You know something neat about Rice? She didn't waste a lot of time on worrying about how her vampires looked next to Stoker's; she just wrote out her crazy-ass sexy vision, no holds barred. She's nuts, but her work has a powerful kick because she's good with prose and she has these vivid ideas and images, and she puts them down on paper. You can say a lot of stuff about Rice, but at least she had the courage to work with her own vision without playing apologist. Rice is self indulgent, sure, but it's a self indulgence that entertained millions, and that is frankly an impressive thing. Come to think of it, the same thing can be said about Meyer.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

There is a host of fascinating books I've been reading for Subject Cataloging I was gonna list, but I've forgotten the names. Sorry.

Romance:

Burke, Joanna, The Spymaster's Lady
(Absolutely the best damn romance novel I've read since whatever that last Heyer thing would have been. The friend who recommended it said it was basically a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I read when I was...well, much younger, god knows how long ago that was; I apparently don't remember the plot. Anyway, this thing fucking kicked ass: great characterization, great plotting, sexy, sexy romance. Wow. Highly recommended if you like romance; moderately recommended if you don't really go for romance but don't mind it).

James, Elosia, Duchess By Night
(this was from the "B" shelf of the person who recommended the above awesome Burke. Sadly, it was there for good reason. It was lame-o).


Manga:

Urushibara Yuki, Mushishi vol. 6
(continuing the ongoing awesome. I dunno, I read it like, last month, the details escape me).

Yazawa Ai: Nana vol. 15
(see above).

Hiramoto Akira, Me and the Devil Blues vols. 1-2
(Jesus, this is weird. Robert Johnson meets the Devil, or possibly just the blues, and gets super awesome at the blues, but! Tragedy. And then Bonnie and Clyde show up. And die. And then we go back in time again.

Hiramoto can really draw, and this is extremely neat. Wow).


Urasawa Naoki: Pluto vols. 1-2
(this is like the culmination of about five years of longing for one of the coolest comics I ever had a chance to see. what do you want from me? I'm happy. Oh my god, I love this man, and I love this comic).

Urasawa Naoki, Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys vol. 1
(Wow, I don't remember much of the plot. But five years or so has really gone a ways towards improving my eye for sequential art! Be patient with me, Amelia; I will eventually catch up with you and we can have many a discussionfest on this again. Which reminds me, I should haul Fantastic Children out again as soon as the semester's over, so I can hit that again with you).

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