meganbmoore: (too many books)
I only went 2 weeks between installments of this this time instead of months. Go me?

What are you currently reading

The Debs of Bletchley Park by Michael Smith. Nonfiction about the women who worked in Bletchley Park during WWII. This one doesn't have a lot yet (I'm about 1/3 through it) about politics and codebreaking, and is instead focusing on how and why various women were recruited, and how they dealt with the everyday life end of things. One story involved a woman being told she was being stationed somewhere else, and when she got there, she sat in a room while the officers discussed whether she should be blindfolded or just transported in a covered car. She ended up being left a the Bletchley Park gates with no knowledge of where she was and no pass. Another story involved two women getting in a catfight over lunch, each shouting that their mutual lover had told her more secrets than he had the other. They didn't stay very long after that. One of the interesting things is that there were so many people that recruitment went from "why hello there, well educated, literate friend of an official who wants to help with the war effort, you come with great recommendations!" to "Hi, you're smart, can keep your mouth shut, and need a job. Sign this document here."

Anytime I read nonfiction about Bletchley Park, or read or watch fiction in which the OSA plays a part (which most certainly does not include TV shows in which the protagonist blithely violates the OSA and reveals BP secrets to the agents of a foreign government in a show of poor codebreaking in what is apparently meant to be a Moment of Cool*) i'm amazed not only by the scope of the OSA, but also by the fact that it actually worked. You had people working together for years, sharing boarding house rooms, spending their free time together, etc, and they NEVER said a single word about their work. Not only that, but this app;ied to family members, and people who married other people who worked at BP or remained lifelong friends after, and they just...never said a word about it for decades.

Getting back on topic, the books isn't lightweight, but is less dense than a lot of WWII nonfiction. It does, though, assume the reader has a general knowledge of Bletchley Park and the OSA. It's a good read, so far, and would probably be liked by most interested in the subject.


What did you recently finish reading?
K: Stray Dog by GoRa and Gohands. A prequel to the first season of the K Project about Kuroh. It's mostly Kuroh having various adventures (including a Shounen Cooking Battle) while looking for the new 7th King. The first few chapters are pretty "LOLs that Kuroh..." but it turns more serious towards the end as it catches up with the anime. Based on the content and art, I thought this was shoujo, but it's apparently categorized as seinen.

Star Wars: Skywalker Strikes by Jason Aaron & John Cassaday. TPB collecting the first 6 issues of the current Star Wars series from Marvel, which takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The first few issues feature Luke, Han Leia and Chewie sabotaging one of the Empire's plants when Vader shows up and makes things go terribly wrong (Lots of "Anakin! Stop trying to kill your kids!" from over here, while also approving of Leia ordering that her father be shot down.) In the last couple issues in the collection, Luke goes off to do some angsty soul searching stuff while Han and Leia go off on a separate mission.

spoilers )
I enjoyed this more than I expected to. I remember that when I was still reading a lot of superhero comics, I recognized that John Cassaday's art was good and warranted the praise he got, but just couldn't get into it myself, but I liked it a lot here. i do have some issues with Leia's characterization,though. At one point, Leia makes a decision that, while understandable, we know will go very very wrong. Thatin and of itself was fine because of what it was, but it's framed as if she should have just listened to Han in a way that made me uncomfortable. In another scene, it comes across as if she tends to badger Luke into going on missions, which I don't think fits at all.

Kamisama Kiss vol 14-19 by Julietta Suzuki.

spoilers )
A Dance With Danger by Jeannie Lin. One of Jeannie Lin's Tang Dynasty series. In a previous book that I haven't read, the male lead attempted to assassinate a warlord and is now on the run. He goes to a magistrate friend of his and ends up in a compromising situation with the magistrate's daughter, and they have to get married. At this point, I was very confused because I had really liked Lin's first few books (haven't read the last few before this one yet) and this was reading like a Regency Romance with the numbers filed off, and the cover blurb had given me the same impression. Then the magistrate tries to have him assassinated because having a wanted criminal in the family doesn't actually appeal to him a lot. At this point, I girded my loins, my experience many many 80s and 90s romance novels telling me to expect vengeful abduction and accusations.

Instead, Our Hero goes "welp, I actually was starting to really like her and think we might have cute kids, but she actually is way better off without me, and I do need to warn some people about the angry warlord hunting me down..." and takes off. Our Heroine, for her part, figures out what happened and decides that she is TOTALLY NOT OK with her father trying to assassinate her husband and runs away from home, finagling her way aboard our Hero's ship.

His pirate captain ex-girlfriend finds all this incredibly entertaining.

A lot of the plot is a carryover from the previous book, with a bit of setting up for future books, but I wasn't lost with the plot despite the heavy reliance on the earlier book. Despite a less than great start, I ended up liking it a lot.


What do you think you'll read next?

More manga and Star Wars comics, library books.

*Not, I'm not over that one episode of Agent Carter yet, WHY DO YOU ASK?
meganbmoore: (bend it like beckham)
Shion no Ou is an eight volume seinen manga about shogi and murder. No, really.

The main character, Shion, is 13 and hasn't spoken since she witnessed her parents murder nine years ago, and was found literally surrounded by blood, the only clue being several shogi pieces lined up in a way that suggested the killer placed them there, and might be a shogi player. In addition to losing her voice, Shion was left with a fear of blood strong enough that her first period go catatonic from shock, and she doesn't have clear memories of the incident. After her parents' deaths, Shion is adopted by her neighbors, her piano teacher and her teacher's husband, a shogi teacher. (In case you are like me and alarm bells start going off at "murderer is shogi player and adopted father teaches shogi," rest assured that the series never even acts like it might consider going there.)

The main plot begins when Shion enters the women's shogi league to become a professional player. There she quickly befriends two slightly older teenaged players-Saori, a girl from a privileged background more interested in pursuing shogi than her family probably cares for, and Ayumi, who is actually a boy, but pretending to be a girl because female players win smaller rewards in tournaments than male players do larger rewards, and he has to pay for his mother's medical bills. She also get the attention of the current meijin (top male player) who wants to see how she does. Not long after Shion starts entering tournaments, she starts receiving threats, which make the police think that her parents' murderer is someone close to Shion in the tournaments who fears recognition.

A large chunk of the series takes place during a large tournament open to all shogi players of both genders, both professional and amateur. There are a lot of shogi details in the series, some of which went over my head, but not so much that I couldn't follow the sports parts. For the most part, I really really liked it and thought they did a good job balancing the sports, crime and psychological parts. I was disappointed, though, that most of the investigating is done by the men, with Shion doing little investigating herself. Most of her plot related to the mystery of her parent's death is her realizing that some of the things she had associated with her adopted father and/or her biological parents may have been things the killer taught her, as he was apparently alone with Shion for several hours after killing her parents. But Shion does figure out who it was on her own without actually actively investigating, so that redeemed that part for me a fair bit. The series is also largely light on fanservice (there are several shirtless scenes for Ayumi, but they're mostly "in case you forgot, this really is a boy") but for a couple volumes, Saori's breasts start...well, ballooning. She isn't particularly drawn more provocatively in general, her breasts were just suddenly each the same size as her head, and then they returned to normal after a while.

It's a very good series, but probably one that will never be licensed.
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
It's been a while since I did this, and I posted separately on a lot of what I read since the last time i did this, but I think this is everything else since then.

What are you currently reading

Shion no Ou. A seinen manga that's probably best summed up as "mute girl becomes professional shogi player to find her parents' killer," which is both technically accurate and a misrepresentation. i'll say a lot more when i'm finished, probably, but I'm enjoying it a lot.

What did you recently finish reading?

Bride of the Water God vol 14 by Mi-Kyung Yun. So much drama (some of which I find hilarious, though that's not the mahwaga's intention)! So much pretty! Sadly, I am not well versed enough in Korean mythology to completely following all the celestial shenanigans.

Kimi ni Todoke by Karuho Shiina Vol 17-18. Adorable awkward misfits manga is still adorable.

brief spoilers )

Dogs: Bullets & Carnage Vol 8 by Shirow Miwa. it's too long between volumes for me to keep track of all the genetic experimentation reveals and 30 or so people named Naoto running around straight in my head, but I'm ok with that, because the entertainment level is high. I'm also pretty sure the main point of this volume was to make sure all the readers shipped main!Naoto/Heine.

Strobe Edge Vol 1-10 by Io Sakisaka. A very cute and sweet shoujo manga about Ninako a girl who, like most of the other girls in her school, likes a classmate name Ren. Through a sequence of events, the two become friends, but Ren has a girlfriend who he's devoted to. Rather than chase after him or be jealous, Ninako decides to just be friends with Ren, and see where life takes her. Ren, thankfully, is not a cold aloof jerk like so many school "princes" in shoujo manga are, though some characters who haven't bothered to actually interact with him assume he will be. It becomes more conventional in the later volumes, but largely manages to avoid falling into some of the more irritating pitfalls other shoujo romances do, despite later volumes getting somewhat bogged down in "I cannot let the person I like know I like them because this other person likes them, even though the person I like has not implicated by word or deed that they have any interest in this other person."

Hero by Alethea Kontis. Sequel to Enchanted, and about the 6th sister of the family, Saturday, who is abducted by a witch's Raven who mistakes her for her heroic older brother, Jack, and taken to the witch's mountain, where she meets a prince who was enchanted by the witch's daughter to take her place. It has fun with the almost literal genderswapping, but doesn't seem quite sure what it wants to say about gender conformity. It's a more cohesive whole than
meganbmoore: (tnkk: get off me i'm reading)
It's been very light on reading here, lately. I've bounced off a few things in addition to what's here, but couldn't tell you what now.

What are you currently reading

Manna From Hades by Carola Dunn. First in a mystery series about a retired world-traveller who now works in a thrift shop in Cornwall. I haven't read enough yet to have a real opinion of it.


What did you recently finish reading?

A night Like This by Julia Quinn. Pretty standard Quinn fluff, which is what I was in the mood for. though I feel compelled to mention that according to the blurb, the 11-year-old who won the debate with the mathematician over the existence of unicorns in The Sum of All Kisses, thought she was a unicorn in this book. This is not true. She just wants to play a unicorn in her sister's play about Henry VIII. I feel a touch betrayed.

Youn In-Wan and Yang Kyung-Il: Shin Angyo Onshi Vol 1-5. A Japanese-Korean collaboration manhwa loosely based on the legend of Chun Hyang, in which Myong Rong dies very early on, and Chun Hyang becomes the bodyguard of a would-be-amoral angyo onshi named Munsu, who has a dark and angsty past and lots of secrets and is connected to the downfall of the government. I read the first couple volumes a few years ago and liked it, but didn't get very far due to only being able to read scanslations on a computer screen at the time. I still like it now, but am much more aware of how Chun Hyang has gotten far less development so far than Munsu (or Bang Ja, for that matter) and how incredibly scantily clad the women are. (Chun Hyang literally runs around wearing nothing but a few leather scraps and a giant cape.) It's very interesting and entertaining anyway, and I'll read more later, but I need a break for a bit.

A Bride's Story Vol 5. As charming and full of scenery pr0n as every other volume. I am greatly amused that, as soon as the plotline about the twins' weddings was concluded, there was a chapter that was almost literally nothing but gorgeous spreads of Amir's daily life. It was almost like "hey, in case you forgot who the main character is supposed to be..."

What do you think you'll read next?

The rest of the Dunn book and the other two books in the series, if I like it, and probably manga.
meganbmoore: (a royal affair: reading)


What are you currently reading
The House of Hades by Rick Riordan. Not far enough into it to have an opinion.

I'm a few chapters into Rose of Versailles, and it's very different, so far, from the anime, which I knew to expect going in, as the mangaka started it expecting to do a series about Marie Antoinette.



What did you recently finish reading?
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, Dreaming of Paradise by Fuyumi Ono, and all of Venus Capriccio by Nishikata Mai, all of which I posted on separately.

Young Miss Holmes Vol 5-7 by Kaoru Shintani. These volumes are available in the US as a single omnibus inthe US, and complete the series. I understand there's a sequel, but haven't found it anywhere yet. This is the manga about Sherlock Holmes's crime solving niece, and it is great, though I don't have anything to add that I didn't say about it when I read the other volumes earlier this year.

Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki, Vol 1-8: Shounen series set in a pseudo-Victorian world about a boy who falls into an abyss, gets linked to a residence of the abyss named Alice, and pops back out 10 years later, thinking it's only been a few minutes. Alice in Wonderland references are a dime a dozen, but in a fun way. I read a bit of this when it first hit stateside, liked it, but kept not getting back to it. The actual plot, once stripped of the trappings, is fairly typical shounen, but I find it very entertaining and enjoy the characters and am generally a sucker for "Lookit my Lewis Carroll references, aren't the clever in their blatancy?" Also, the main character, Oz, gets spoiled for a major character death in his favorite book series (that he's now 10 years behind on) and pretty much has what's my internal reaction anytime someone blithely lets out major spoilers for something I'm reading/watching. Except that his reaction is very very external.

There is one thing that bugs me though.

spoiler )

What do you think you'll read next?

Pretty sure reading the rest of what i'm on now will keep me occupied for a bit.
meganbmoore: (yoko and shoryu)


What are you currently reading

I'm rereading Sailor Moon with the intention of finally reading it all the way through (I read a lot of it my first year at WisCon, when I stayed with [personal profile] laceblade ) and then the first couple volumes released by Del Rey/Kodansha before finances changed and I couldn't buy all the manga I wanted any more, but the library has all of it now. Apparently I made it all the way to volume 11 the first time, but I feel I had more than 1 volume + short stories left, so who knows. I'm on volume 6 now, though, and remember a lot of plot that I haven't made it to yet. Love the girls and their epic destinies and BFFness, amused by Mamoru always getting abducted and/or brainwashed, eternally weirded out by that...thing ChibiUsa does on Nemesis.

Reading Wings of Dreams by Fuyumi Ono a Twelve Kingdoms novel that never made it stateside, but for which translations can be found online. it's about an adoloescent girl who decides to make the pilgrimage to see if she'll be chosen as her country's King because apparently none of the adults have been deemed worthy, and someone has to take over the job and get rid of the monsters. SHE IS THE SASSIEST THING EVER. I'm about 1/4 through it.

What did you recently finish reading?


Dogs: Bullets and Carnage Vol 4-7 by Shirow Miwa. I get a lot of entertainment out of this rather violent seinen sries, but don't have many deep thoughts. I mostly enjoyed Naoto and Heine's respective backstory reveals and connections (though I'm glad I didn't read this right after certain parts of 7 Seeds, because Heine's backstory delivers a similar gut punch as some parts of that, though with less emotional connection to the characters) and their partnership, and was less interested in Mihai and Badou's hijinks, entertaining as they were. I also still get very distracted by Mihai's resemblance to Hohenheim in FMA.

Ooku Vol 6-7: These volumes finish up the reign of Tsunayoshi, and then bulldoze through a few decades to bring us back to Yoshimune, and where we started the series. I don't have anything to say that hasn't been said at length by others, and so give a general thumbs up with the caveat of a continuing sideeye over consent in the series (but then, we're meant to be uncomfortable about mostsexual encounters in the series).

What do you think you'll read next?

More Sailor Moon and Wings of Dreams.
meganbmoore: (too many books)
What are you currently reading


Volume 8 of 7 Seeds by Yumi Tamura. According to wikipedia, the arc I'm reading now wraps up at the end of volume 9, and I'll have reached the point I kept telling myself I wanted to reach before taking a break. Which is just as well, as emotional investment is currently a bit anxietymaking. Yumi Tamura appears to have gone "Pft, Clamp thinks they can make unbearably angsty back stories? They are amateurs. I'll show them how it's done without going nearly as far over the top."

What did you recently finish reading?

Volumes 4-7 of 7 Seeds. See above.

A Bride's Story Vol 4 by Kaoru Mori. Most of this volume is a side plot about a pair of twin sisters looking for husbands. These husbands, though, have to be brothers so the sisiters won't be separated. It was pretty much hilarious and delightful throughout, and I didn't mind the sidetrip at all.

Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould. DNF. Set in late 16th Century Italy, our heroine was sent to a convent several years ago, but is called home by her father after her sister's mysterious death to marry her sister's fiance, and soon is approached by a secret society of women who help make each others problems go away. Which would seem to be a perfect formula for me, but somehow, it's just boring. Like, really really boring. I read over half of it thinking "surely, SURELY something is about to happen and this book will live up to its potential and turn awesome!" until I realized that the boredom was making me read more slowly than usual and hours that could be spent reading something else were drifting away from me.

The Secret Lives of Codebreakers by Sinclair McKay. Nonfiction about day-to-day life at Bletchley Park from 1938-1945. Pretty interesting stuff, really. I hadn't realized before that there were 9000-10000 people employed there throughout the war (though that includes EVERYONE employed there, including messengers, secretaries, kitchen staff, cleaners, etc., not just codebreakers) or how common nervous breakdowns were. This is also the first thing I've read that broke down just how secretive things were, including between the people working there, with no onebeing allowed to discuss any aspect of their work with anyone outside of their own department, even family also employed at the Park. There was one family of a mother and two daughters where the mother was a waitress in the canteen, the older daughter one of the codebreakers, and the younger daughter employed as a messenger at 13, and who later became a secretary at the park, and none could discuss their work with each other at any time, even after the war. (The younger daughter, Mimi Gallilee, is also one of McKay's most-quoted sources for the book.) Another couple met and got married while working there, but didn't know what the other actually did there for decades after, despite being married the whole time. There's some information on codebreaking, but most of the focus is on the day-to-day operations and living conditions.

The War At Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks. A short-ish graphic novel about a girl named Juniper who goes to a boarding school on scholarship. She quickly befriends her quirky roommate, Cassie, and makes an enemy of the school's Queen Bee, Emily. The main plot is pretty straightforward and doesn't add anything to its type, but is very enjoyable. There's a sideplot about a legend of the school's, which holds that, before it was a school, it was a lord's castle, and one day the lord's sons had a fight and followed a white beast into the forest, and were never heard from again. Unfortunately, the book isn't long enough to really integrate that legend into the main plot, because based on what Hicks managed to do in the limited space she had, I think that could have elevated it from a solid and enjoyable read to a pretty great read. I feel compelled to mention that there isn't a single living male in the whole thing.

The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks. Utterly hilarious adventures of a superheroine whose town is beset by ninjas, marshmallow thieves, evil poodle ladies, and the occasional talking bear. It pokes a lot of loving fun at the genre (and less loving fun and more sharp stick at society-at one point, Superhero Girl wears a hoodie because she's having a bad hair day, and everyone thinks she turned evil) and has a lot of fun with her adventures in and out of costume, and wants us to ponder just how often superheroes forget to take their masks off (and how they keep them on in a fight). My favorite parts were when she fought her evil future self, and the times her brother showed up to be eternally devastated that she didn't want to be his partner forever.

The Little Princesses by Marion Crawford. Memoir of Marion Crawford, who was governess to Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret in the 1930s and 1940s. Knowing that the royal family cut off all contact with Crawford after she published the book and never spoke with her in the almost 40 years between the book's publication and Crawford's death (and didn't attend or send a wreath to her funeral) I was curious about what she had to say, and surprised to find how incredibly pro-royal-family it was. By today's standards, it's almost nauseatingly pure and positive. To judge by the book, the royal family was perfect and gracious and never had an ounce of arrogance or pretension, and the princesses were perfectly behaved angels who never lost their temper or misbehaved, only having "flaws" that made them precocious and clever as children, and intelligent and responsible and caring as they grew older. As one of the first books of the type, it must have felt to be an enormous breach of confidence, despite it's adoring nature (and definitely was, as Crawford had supposedly agreed not to publish anything about the royal family) but most famous figures would be relieved if something unauthorized about them came out and was half as positive as this. Really, though, it was an enjoyable and charming read, and had a lot of interesting information about life and conditions at the times, it's just hard to buy into a portrayal of any family as being so good and flawless.


What do you think you'll read next?

More 7 Seeds, then get back to Legend of the White Haired Demoness, and I have the Beautiful Creatures series from the library.
meganbmoore: (korra: baby!korra)
Natsuiro Kiseki is a 12 episode anime about 4 friends-Natsumi, the goodhearted athlete, Saki, who is very down-to-earth and prickly, Yuka, the hyperactive one who is the impetus for most hijinks in the series, and Rin, the sleepy, laid back one who gets pulled into all of Yuka's plots and antics-who discover that the giant rock behind the shrine Rin's family cares for is magic, and that if 4 friends make the same wish while touching the rock, it'll be granted. (Later, it only takes 1 or 2 of the girls to do it.) There's a bodyswap episode, an accidental invisibility episode, a timeloop episode, an episode where two people have to touch at all times, a clone episode, etc.

However! This is not what the series is actually about!

Because right before they discover the magic rock really is magic, they learn that Saki's father has taken a job as a doctor elsewhere, and that they'll be moving at the end of the summer, and the series is actually about the 4 of them getting the most they can out of the last summer that they'll all be physically together. (Because the internet and public transportation exist, so thankfully it isn't GOODBYE FOREVER.) The magic rock hijinks (largely caused by Yuka-at one point, Natsumi calls Saki, wondering if she should be worried because Yuka hasn't caused any chaos in a few days) mostly serve to give the girls adventures to fill the summer with, and while some magic rock adventures are played for the lulz, almost all are used for introspection and life lessons, but without getting preachy or overly sentimental (by anime standards). There's also a subplot where Yuka wants them all to participate in a competition to become idols and so contractually stay together foreverandever and be just like Four Seasons, a group they're all fans of, though Yuka most of all.

Technically speaking, there's nothing really innovative or original about the series, but I found it to be very enjoyable and fulfilling, and despite the magic rock adventures, more realistic in it's depiction of growing up and teen friendship than most anime.

There's also a very short OVA that takes place 4 years later when they reunite and catch up with each other's lives.
meganbmoore: (10k: downtime with obsessions)
What are you currently reading
Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer. The last book in the series. Like the other books (which I read a couple years ago) I'm very entertained by it, but don't really have much to say.

What did you recently finish reading?


Rensen Hana no Koe Yowa by Sumeragi Natsuki. A a single volume shoujo collection of connected oneshots (and I believe technically a sequel to another single-volume series by the same author) based on folklore from the Tang Dynasty. The stories are connected by a somewhat hapless man and his wife, who is actually a flower goddess. The first story is somewhat dull, involving a young scholar stealing a poem to pad his own portfolio, but the second and third stories are more mythological, one about a man who tried to cultivate a rare flower, not knowing his wife was a flower fairy, and the other about a goddess exiled to Earth as a human for rejecting the emperor. The last story isn't connected to the others and is about a man who cheats on his jealous wife with a fox demon and suffers for it. I enjoyed the midle stories a lot, and the bookending ones less so, though they weren't bad by any means.

Hoshi ni Haru Hi by Suzuki Julietta. Another collection of shoujo one-shots, this one by the mangaka of Kamisama Kiss. These are Suzuki's earlier works, and it shows in the art, though not necessarily in a bad way. Almost all the stories are "hello, I am a cute and odd little ball of fluff with a side of angst. No, wait, now I'm a giant inferno of angst and it's time to wrap things up." Suzuki's fondness for cute semi-tragic demon boys/spirits is very evident here (she also seems to like cute oddball vampire boys), and there are some elements that probably eventually grew into Kamisama Kiss. Overall I found it pretty enjoyable, and the stories a bit more original than a lot of shoujo one-shot collections.

The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford. A slow start, but very enjoyable and interesting in the long run, tracing the Mongol Empire from 1206-1509 primarily through Genghis Khan's female descendants. Very much worth reading, except that I cannot stress enough warnings for the 5th chapter "War Against Women," which details various tortures and horrific executions in the years following Genghis Khan's death, primarily of women. It's factual and to the point and serves a purpose in covering the history, and not remotely prurient, but my brain so did not need to know about those methods.

Sakuran by Moyoco Anno. A single (but extra-long) volume seinen manga about the life of Kyoha, a fictional (as far as I know) Oiran of the Edo era. I feel like the mangaka read or watched Menoirs of a Geisha and went "ok, why don't I show you what life in the kind of environment you claim to be portraying would ACTUALLY be like." It's very detailed and fascinating, but also rather depressing and not light reading at all. Warning for lots of graphic sex and nudity, not all of it consentual. (And not meant to be titillating when it isn't.)

What do you think you'll read next?
I will hopefully start either Legend of the White-Haired Demoness or Journey to the West. Probably more manga. I want to get back to reading actual series and hopefully start catching up with some series, but right now, I seem to mostly want very short manga. I also have library books checked out, mostly non-fiction.
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
A Bride's Story is set on the Silk Road in the 19th century, and tells the story of Amir, a 20-year-old woman from a semi-nomadic tribe who enters into a political marriage with Karluk, a boy 8 years her junior. It's somewhat slice-of-life in a setting that isn't often explored, and with a decidely different approach than most of what's out there, focusing on Amir's getting used to her new life and the local customs, while her family plots to get her back so they can send her off to a more advantageous political marriage.

I read the first few volumes of Mori's Emma (meant to get back to it, still hope to get around to reading it someday) several years ago, and my general impression is pretty much what I recall of my impression of Emma: characters are likable but a little too perfect to be overly involving (their "flaws" are the kind that are meant to make them more likable and charming), the plot is pretty decent and straightforward, and it's greatest strength is the amazing detail given to the background and the clothes. Especially the clothes. There's more detail in some of the costumes than you can get in the entirety of some other manga volumes.

This is very very much worth reading if you want something decidely unique but also relaxing and easy going in your manga, or just want to ogle amazing scenery and clothing pr0n. That said, the chapter in which 4 generations of the women in Harluk's family get together and cover roughly a century-and-a-half of the family's history and the women of the family, via a huge embroidered cloth that they've all contributed to over the decades. Seriously, it's amazing and if you just want to read it to see what my fuss is, it's chapter 10 and can largely be read without having read the rest of the series.
meganbmoore: (baccano: intrepid reporter)
Young Miss Holmes is a seinen manga about Christie, the 10-year-old niece of Sherlock Holmes, via a younger sister. Christie lives with the family's servants while her parents are in India, and while I question the "leaving with servants" aspect, I think we can all agree that it was likely for the best to opt not to leave her in the care of either of her uncles (well, Mycroft hasn't been mentioned yet in the series, but I assume he's out there somewhere). Christie tends to be described in canon as a "miniature Holmes," and it's about 3/4 tiny!prissy!girl!Holmes, and 1/4 imitation as the highest form of flattery.

The stories in the manga are largely based on stories in the original Holmes canon. Early stories have Christie effectively stalking Holmes and Watson on their cases, but after a while she starts finding cases on her own that end up coinciding with Holmes's cases (there are a couple in which Holmes barely appears at all), and a couple have her merely as observer. Christie's posse consists of a maid named Nora, who carries a "Snake-tongue" whip and apparently has a habit of allowing herself to be lured into dark alleys by gangs of thugs so she can mug them, and head maid Ann-Marie, a considerably more prim and responsible maid who possesses a frightening knowledge of various types of weapons and has two pistols on her at all times. Later, Grace Dunbar joins as Christie's governess, who does not approve of the gallivanting into dangerous situations but is quite happy to coach Christie on how to use her pre-adolescent feminine wiles to get information, as well as how to find important information buried in gossip.

Holmes reaction to Christie's heroworship/stalking varies from "Fine you may join (my ego truly cares nothing about this)" to "This may not be a good idea...oh, you have your maids. That's good then" to "SWEET MERCY I AM RELATED TO A SUPERNATURAL (adorable) MONSTER WHO IS LIKE A BLOODHOUND WHEN IT COMES TO ME AND/OR MYSTERIES!" Watson, thankfully, is consistently "NO HOLMES A CRIME SCENE IS NOT THE PROPER PLACE FOR YOUR TEN YEAR OLD NIECE. NO, HER MAIDS DO NOT MAKE IT OK. BAD HOLMES BAD. I MEAN BOTH OF YOU." Watson and Christie go off adventuring on a couple cases, and it is adorable.

I can't speak for how faithfully the series follows the ACD stories as I'm not familiar enough with those, but I find it consistently enjoyable, suitably complex and frequently hilarious. It's marketed as seinen, but it has the shoujoiest of shoujo art and, despite the occasional dead body, most of it is pretty pure and kid-friendly, though Ann-Marie and Nora both have fairly dark and depressing back stories. Well, there was also that one time the series went all shoujo-ai with Christie and a permanently pre-pubescent vampire princess, but that was pretty innocent too.

The series is seven volumes long altogether, and the first four have been released in two omnibuses by Seven Seas, with an omnibus of the last three volumes due out later this year.
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
Some things I've read recently-ish but keep forgetting to post on:

Manga:

Blank Slate Vol 1-2 (complete series): This is a short series by Aya Kanno, the creator of Otomen, and it's about an amnesiac, sociopathic, evil assassin. In one of the sidebars, Kanno said she set out to do a series about a villain and, well, did. It's an interesting experiment, but it's too short to develop the characterization it needs to really work and still have the plot it wants, and the plot isn't strong enough to pull it off without strong characterization. The most impressive thing about it is the amazement at it coming from the same brain as the adorable genderbending fluff that is Otomen.

xxxHolic
Vol 16-19 (end of series): This remains one of the most beautifully illustrated manga I've read (despite Clamp's refusal to actually give people bones) but I was never able to recover interest in it after the change in status quo that took place a little bit before these volumes. Strangely, I recall spending a fair bit of the early volumes wishing the series focused less on the individual customers and more on the meta plot, and then these final volumes were mostly about the metaplot, but that had changed to something that interested me significantly less by then. (And I half-think that one day Clamp just decided the next chapter would be the last, and it was.) Still, I remain fond of the series, and would be so regardless simply because it was my gateway drug into Clamp.

Wallflower Vol 22-27: I...cannot believe I've read 27 volumes of a manga in which there is only the merest hint of an ongoing plot and character growth and relationship evolution both move at a snail's pace, and where the timeline is actually on repeat. Yet, I do not regret it at all. (Well, I could do with unreading some chapters along the way, but that's true of most things that last a while.) I generally enjoy the chapters with Sunako's aunt and/or Noi-chan and the ones where random supernatural things may or may not appear (particularly possessions) best, and the ones where people try to force conformity least. (Though those always end up going terribly for the ones trying to force conformity.) But this series never fails to make me laugh a lot, even if the laughter is sometimes of the more horrified "what--..." variety. When/If this series ever ends (though for all I know, it actually has in Japan) I hope Hayakawa actually has a final arc that resolves things instead of just stopping.

Books:

A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin: Rambling, repetitive, boring. I'm not entirely sure how much is taste changing/GRRM either not caring or needing a firmer guiding hand, and how much had to do with it mostly being about plots/characters I'm either disinterested in or outright dislike, and adding a lot of POVs that weren't needed, but I feel this book would have been far more effective at about 1/4 the length. I also simply outright disliked most plot "twists," and can't help but feel that GRRM was developing it to not follow fandom expectations, as opposed to writing what he had always planned to write. It just frequently felt random and "HA HA GOTCHA!" Like, I almost think he'll make Robert be Jon's father just because everyone thinks it's Rhaegar. (Yes, I joke about how hair color makes it a valid theory but I am largely joking because GRRM has used hair color for major paterinty-centric plot developments before. Though I actually have accidentally predicted paternity reveals based on hair color and style more than once, and I think I did once write out a fanwank for how it could work based on the Arthurian themes in Jon's plot, but I've forgotten half of that now. But I digress.) I...will probably skim future books (should they ever come out...I'm not sure he's interested in writing this anymore) to see what happens with Dany, Sansa and Brienne, but this book pretty effectively killed my interest in the property as a whole.


The Mortal Bone by Marjorie M. Liu: Actually, my feelings for this one are very positive but I kept not thinking of anything to say about it that wasn't spoilery from the first word. (Well, aside from the fact that similarities to Top Cow's The Darkness seemed to increase some.) In other series, I'd be a bit leery of some of the plot developments, but as Liu has avoided the plot elements associated with the elements that would usually make me leery so far, I'm largely anticipating them instead.

Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard: Yet another case of my suffering Stockholm Syndrome when it comes to awful, trainwrecky YA. I don't think I'll be complaining as much about the guys and romances in the TV series when I get back to it because what I've seen of the series is way way better on that front. Actually, I'm kind of amazed that the TV series has mostly positive relationships between women because pretty much every female/female relationship in the books is negative at some point, and ends up tense at best, and I think Jenna is the only character I liked. (I suppose this is how some people feels about the Vampire Diaries books, except unlike the VD books, the PLL books can't claim to be 1001% better when it comes to rape culture and violence against women, and way more comfortable with female sexuality. Whereas the PLL books are way way worse than the show when it comes to those factors.) I do think the resolution ofthe "who killed Ali?" plot rightly captured the feel of the 90s YA mystery ala Christopher Pike that it wanted, but while I think Shepard knew how she was going to resolv "Who killed Ali?" I think she was making up how she got there as she went along. And I'm not sure I've read anything else where in 8 books I don't think any of the main characters made a single smart decision. And I don't mean "are uninformed when making the choices" or "believe they're acting on information from a source they think they can trust" but always act on the bad information of someone they know is out to get them and who has tricked/hurt them before.

The Road to Avalon by Joan Wolf: A largely interesting Arthuriana set in post-Roman Britain and heavy on the politics and much more focused on Arthur than most Arthuriana I've read, it succeeded in making Arthur more interesting than most versions are for me (a lot of that, I think, had to do with the fact that it was written that most of Arthur's good traits and the aspects of his personality that made him a strong leader came from Ygraine. I actually think the Camelot series was trying to do this with Arthur's more douchy moments being attributed to acting like his father and his better moments being when he was showing more of Ygraine and her influence. The show was just terrible.) and Arthur and Lancelot (in his earlier incarnation as Bedwyr) more likable than usual for me until around the page 200 mark where I abruptly stopped liking both within a few pages of each other (if you read it, you can probably guess what bit for each.) Ultimately, while I found the plot interesting and engaging and liked most aspects of the take (There are some obvious MZB influences, but I didn't feel obnoxiously so, and this is almost purely historical fiction as opposed to fantasy.), Gwenhwyfar (Guenevere) and Mordered were the only characters I found to be particularly sympathetic, and it had 2 of my big pet peeves in modern Arthuriana: Ygraine/Uther is portrayed as True Love, and Morguase and Morgan are not Ygraine's daughters, but her sisters (in Morgan's case, they have different mothers and Morgan is Arthur's age.) For me, making Morguase and/or Morgan not be Ygraine's daughters completely alters some of the most interesting aspects of their roles, but that may be a YMMV thing.

Fate's Edge by Ilona Andrews: A lot better than the second Edge book, but not as good as the Kate Daniels books. I liked the caper plot a lot and liked Audrey and though the adolescent tagalongs and their issues worked well. I...did not dislike the hero, Kaldar, but I think I was supposed to not mind all his chauvinism since he got called on it, but, well, just because you get called on your attitude it doesn't erase the attitude, much less make it charming. I think I remember reading that some fans thought there wasn't enough romance in this one as compared to the others, but I didn't notice the decrease. Actually, I think I may have preferred that it had a bit less focus on the romance than what it had.
meganbmoore: (xxxholic)

Completely against character, I got into Bamboo Blade with a near-complete disregard for the proper chronology. I read volume 2 in 2009 for a review, read volumes 1 and 3 (and reread volume two) around the middle of 2010, watched the anime (knowing that it would cover events well past what I’d read) a couple months later, and only recently finally got around to reading volumes 4-6 recently. The delay had nothing to do with any dislike or neutralness to the series and everything to do with the comfort of knowing it was waiting should I encounter a particularly ragey manga that said girls couldn’t fight or be in sports or whatever. In the end, I read them before that became necessary, but that’s not the point.

The basic concept is that Kojiro, a deadbeat, perpetually broke, kendo coach with a half-formed team, is offered free sushi for a year is his girls team can beat his high school friend/rival’s girls team at a practice match. (Later, his obsessive focus on having a perfect, winning girls kendo team shifts to keeping his job. Oh, and the students, of course.) The early arc focuses on gathering the team (though the final member doesn’t show up until much later) only one of whom, Kirino, the spacey and bubbly but academically brilliant team captain, actually has an interest in being part of a kendo team. Her best friend, Saya, likes kendo but tends to go off on erratic, obsessive creative binges and of the two freshmen, the introverted kendo prodigy Tama views kendo as a chore instead of a fun hobby, and the other initial member, Miya Miya, joins because her boyfriend does, and sees the sport as a way to let out her more violent urges.

I don’t do well with sports manga-I liked both Hikaru no Go and Crimson Hero in early volumes, and didn’t stop liking them much as I could never get interested in the sports parts-but this seems to be the exception. It’s very feel good and warm and fun, but without being cutesy or cloying. The earlier parts work better in anime form than in manga form (I was actually startled reading the first volume because I remembered volume two being much better, and, well, it was) but then, it has the advantage of having a better idea of how the plotline and characters will settle down than the mangakas did starting out. Things largely play out the same between the two, though the anime adds a (fairly minor) character I like, and I don’t know yet if my favorite plotline from the anime was an anime-original, or is still to come in the manga, but in generally I find them about equally enjoyable, and while there are plenty of anime based on manga that I like, I think this is one of the few that really is as good as the manga it’s based on.
meganbmoore: (vd: kill you with my brain)

Over the last few weeks, I have been catching up on the U.S. releases of various manga series that I was following in scans (and largely posted on at the time) before I burned out on scans (as in, one week I was following faithfully and the next I didn’t and haven’t touched them since and have avoided posts on the series from people who were still following them to avoid spoilers. (Given how much of the fiction I consume is foreign, I have become a master at avoiding internet spoilers, unless someone just blurts out “And then the cliff crumbled beneath this character in this series, and s/he fell into the sea and died!”)

Anyway, this mean the last six volumes of Samurai Deeper Kyo (Certain aspects near the end are delightfully reminiscent of self-indulgent fic. This is not a bad thing.) and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle (Clamp is so…utterly shameless. I am both impressed and concerned that they actually Went There, and yet…somehow not squicked. Also, Kurogane must be so relieved that his major issues are Dead Parent Angst, a major princess complex, and thwapping his buddies when they start getting too self-sacrificing.) This actually worries me a bit.)*, seven volumes of Full Metal Alchemist (Despite some problems, this is one of the most tightly plotted and better characterized series I’ve read.), two volumes of xxxHolic (That cooking lady plot that seems endless when you’re waiting for a new chapter zips right by in collected form.) and three volumes of Claymore (I still know joy that my fanon of Helen being a grabbing drunk basically became canon.).

Naturally, This mean I am looking for clones and significant eye-and-other-body-parts-but-mostly-eye loss and clones and duplicates and various forms of created beings and zombies and immortals everywhere. Not to mention swords and various kinds of long, flowing hair.

But it looks like xxxHolic, Full Metal Alchemist, and Claymore are all within a few chapters of where I left off, so there will soon be new-to-me stuff!

Meanwhile, a spoiler for Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle‘s ending, that’s also a xxxHolic spoiler.

spoiler )

*Later volumes of SDK and T:RC both have serious cases of “OMG would you just finish that sentence/say what you mean, but mostly just finish that sentence already!” Random observation.
meganbmoore: (ww: artemis reads)
I read the prologue (prequel?) volume of Dogs a while back, enjoyed it despite not exactly understanding everything that was going on, got the rest of what was out, and the got distracted by something else. (This is how you end up with a backlog that would take years to read through, just FYI. Well, that and booksales.)

Dogs is a futuristic story about stray warriors with secrets, Epic Angst, and bad attitudes. There’s a stoic swordswoman looking for her family’s killer, a quasi-easygoing Old Dude (who just happens to be a dead ringer for Hohenheim from Full Metal Alchemist), an apathetic reporter who kills everything in sight if he goes 5 minutes without a cigarette (literally), a winged mute girl, a blind priest with a concerning loli fetish, and a seemingly-immortal mercenary who has a charming backstory involving things like genetically altered children being tossed into a pit with a giant monster to see how quickly they pull their body parts back together. Literally.

At a certain level, it’s like Kazuya Minekura binged on Kaori Yuki’s entire backlog and then created this. Possibly while drunk.

I’m still not entirely certain what happened with all of this, even after reading it twice, but I do know that I was entertained, if in a rather morbid way.
meganbmoore: (sorata and arashi)

Oh my, there’s really only one volume left? I can’t imagine how Park Joong-Ki could manage to wrap this up, given that things only just seem to be getting started, in only one volume. Unless rocks fall, and everybody dies. Which, come to think of it, might not be a stretch for this series.

spoilers )
meganbmoore: (sorata and arashi)
Review at Manga Bookshelf.

BTW, probable spam of Yen shoujo Vol 1s coming later, for the Rightstuf sale.  BB, incidentally, is also a Yen sale, which is convenient timing for me.
meganbmoore: (manji/rin)
After volume 20’s rather plot and character driven scenes wrapped up most of the almost-neverending prison arc, this was a rather low key volume. Which, for Blade of the Immortal means everyone fought their way to a conclusion in a bloodbath.

spoilers )
meganbmoore: (no justice)
Set in what appears to be the near-future, this series focuses on several killers of different types who live in the city. Mihai is a former enforcer for one of the gangs who returns to the city when his former protégée kills the boss. Badou is a chain smoking information broker who gets maniacal and trigger happy when deprived of his cigarettes. Naoto is an amnesiac who was raised and trained to fight by the man she believes killed her parents. Lastly, Heine is an albino who is the victim of genetic experimentation and has a slave collar bolted to his neck.

Heine is sometimes Badou’s bodyguard, and Badou’s path tends to cross with Mihai’s, particularly at the bar where Mihai lives with his…I’m not sure she’s his girlfriend, or even “friend with benefits,” but it’s where he parks himself. Mostly, though, the characters act independently of each other. Right now, the mangaka seems to be focusing on throwing out ideas and characters and showing how dark and violent the world is, but doesn’t seem to really have a cohesive plot or direction. Some manga can work like that, but I don’t think this one really can. The designs are interesting, though I get distracted by Mihai’s resemblance to Fullmetal Alchemist’s Hohenheim, and I like the characters, but I hope future installments are less aimless and more cohesive.

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