cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (shoukei the formerly divine)
As it happens.

YA:

Jones, Diana Wynne: Enchanted Glass
(solid work.

It's really sad to think its probably her last, but she's put out several (good) books in the last few years, so what the fuck could I have to complain about. I have had literally my whole lifetime of Diana Wynne Jones's books; I count my blessings, and find them to be numerous and lovely. This woman has brought so very much joy and wisdom into my life: I reveled in her books alongside my older and younger sisters even when I didn't get along very well with those sisters; we all still love her books today. I have gone back to her stories dozens of times and not found them wanting, not ever. I love her, I love her works, I love everything she brought to my life.

I'm really sad, but I have a lot to be thankful for).

Romance:

Brockman, Suzanne: Over the Edge
(Man, I wanted to like this; I bet I never again run across a military romance author so pleasantly enlightened about feminism and homosexuality. And hey, it didn't suck; she can write a decent sentence, at least. But the sex was never all that sexy, and I only liked the A-plot, not the B, C, or D-plots. Brockman seems like a good person; I wish she was a better writer).

Beverly, Jo: The Devil's Heiress.

Balogh, Mary: A Summer to Remember
(I liked it more as a book than a romance. There are worse complaints, I guess).


Manga:

Azuma Kiyohiko: Yotsuba& vol. 8.

CLAMP: Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle vol. 26
(Well, damn).

Nakamura Yoshiki: Skip*Beat vols. 16-20
(Oh, I had so much to say about these volumes! But I didn't write it down, and I kinda forgot most of it. I think it was ranting along the lines of how amazing this manga is for allowing Kyoko to remain the focus of the manga even in a storyline where she'd normally be sidelined--I mean, in what other shoujo manga do you expect a storyline nominally dedicated to mending fences between the delectable leading man Ren and his estranged dad to end up focused on said dad's budding mentoring of/hilarious feuding with Kyoko? (God, that was cool.) I love Nakamura and her genius for writing Kyoko. I could read this for a hundred more years; given the glacially slow development of plot, it would only generate ten years or so of actual story...).

Urasawa Naoki: Pluto vol. 8

Yoshinaga Fumi: Ooku vol. 3.
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 (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 (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 (moonlight)
I know I said this already, but...

PLUTO. GOD.

I had this whole evening planned out, and it did not involve recreational reading. In fact, it involved Patrick Wilson, an annotation, and constructing many practice Dewey Decimal Classification numbers.

Once again, Naoki Urasawa has derailed me. Curses!
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (nana at the window)
I've whined before about the lack of good manga reviewing, which is tangentially related to a lack of serious criticism, so it behooves me to link to a few of the fantastic pieces of manga criticism I've read in the last week or so. This was originally one post with the YKK thing to follow, but it was getting long, so I split 'em.


The House Next Door: Comics Column #5: Pluto, Scott Pilgrim, Watchmen
Link from Journalista. The comments on Watchmen and Scott Pilgrim (one I've read, one I know only from reading snippets and the ravings of fans, although I've read other O'Malley work, and liked it) are definitely worth reading, but if you want, you can just scroll down for the Pluto segment. I really shouldn't have read it, because I still haven't been able to get my hands on a copy of Pluto yet, curses, but I couldn't help it.

A little tangential bit that made me smile, because the process and product of adaptation in fiction and media fascinates me (which I credit to having read a lot of mythology as a child--as in, multiple versions of the same story, and sometimes, I wondered why they weren't the same):

I've kept far away from "spoilers" for the volumes of Pluto to follow, something I rarely do when it comes to comics (Scott Pilgrim is another notable exception). For me, personally, it's one of the most exciting comics in ages. And part of that comes back to the reaction to seeing the human-looking Atom. I know how the story "ends," as I've read the original Astro Boy tale. And this is, of course, why people still get excited by film adaptations of comics, by remakes, by re-imaginings and retcons, dissections and distillations. We want to see what they're going to do with these ideas, what they're going to bring to the original.

Apropos of that, I've been dying to read Pluto for YEARS, ever since I first encountered it, as it combines four of my great loves in one--Tezuka, Urasawa, manga, and adapted work. I'd be in a tizzy over it being backordered, were I not also mostly unconcerned with spoilers.

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