Friday, April 29, 2011

Manga Review: Pig Bride Volume Three, KookHwa Huh/Sujin Kim

Pig Bride, Vol. 3In this volume, Doe-Doe gets herself in vast amounts of trouble and Si-Joh is unusually sympathetic to her situation. Mu-Yeon is still driving Si-Joon crazy, a raccoon appears a continent away from its natural habitat, and the mysterious person who is out to get Si-Joon makes an appearance. We also learn a little bit about the original “Park Bride” and Si-Baek Lee.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Manga Review: Tena on S-String Volume Two, Sesuna Mikabe

Tena on S-String, Vol. 2
Available on Amazon
In the opening of this volume, we are introduced to a young woman named Arun. She is a Tuner from a very upper important family of Tuners and is greatly admired by everyone for her ability. She is apparently the cool and apparently emotionally clueless type. Her brother Lord Forteo on the other hand has enough emotion for three of her. He greets her enthusiastically and they talk about the competition. Arun states that the competition (as opposed to cooperation) seems like it would actively hinder everyone’s efforts, but the brother states that the competition is intended to improve everyone’s abilities in the long run on future missions.It turns out that Arun will be going to Japan to take place in this competition (where she will undoubtedly run into our poor Kyosuke).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dear Gina, Did You Know that You Can Have Chocolate AND Peanut Butter?

I bet you totally did not know that, because in your not-a-review you seemed baffled that there might be science in the fantasy. That you did not know that science can be in fantasy--even in epic-type fantasy-- was very obvious and it made your not-a-review kind of funny in an insulting way because you couldn’t even be bothered to oh, grab a geek from the lunch room and find out about this fantasy stuff before you decided to write the review about a program you knew you wouldn’t like. (I keep harping on that, I know. I just can’t believe that you did that. It makes no sense at all and I must poke at it like a sore tooth.)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica Episode Six "This is Definitely Odd"--Review

We open with a repeat of the last moments of the battle between Sayaka and Kyoko from the previous episode. Homura has stopped the battle. Kyoko demands to know what Homura is up to, coming between her and Sayaka like that. Sayaka tries to use Homura's interruption as a distraction, but Homura knocks Sayaka out. Homura states that she is an ally to the calm and an enemy to those who fight for no reason and asks if Kyoko is one or the other.

Homura calls Kyoko by name, which surprises Kyoko. She asks if she's met Homura before, and Homura replies "perhaps." Kyoko withdraws from the scene.

Madoka is surprised that Homura had come to save them. Homura scolds Madoka for being foolish and tells her to stay out of the magical girl business. Homura walks off, leaving Madoka looking very confused by Homura's words and actions. Kyuube says that it's pretty obvious that Homura is up to something. Kyuube warns Madoka to be careful about Homura, and thinks to himself, "Homura, could you be--?" (No, there is nothing stated that indicates what exactly he's speculating about. I really hate it when the narrative does this.)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dear Gina Bellafante, I Must Explain that Winter is Coming and this is Not Good

Since you are extremely ignorant about the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, and about fantasy in general yet felt the need to review a TV series that you already knew you wouldn’t like, I thought I’d give you a little background so if you continued watching something you knew you already hated you wouldn’t seem like a complete fool. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Late Eclipses, by Seanan McGuire

372 pp.

Late Eclipses: An October Daye Novel
Available on Amazon.
Late Eclipses starts with a shopping trip, followed by the Queen summoning Toby to her Court, where Toby is given the title of Countess. Then a dream warning from Karen, the child of one of Toby’s friends alerts her to the presence of Oleander de Merelands, the woman who had helped Duke Sylvester’s brother in the kidnapping of his wife and daughter (a kidnapping that Toby had been unable to prevent and which had resulted in her literally sleeping with the fishes).

Gosick Episode Five, "There's a Mysterious Ghost in the Abandoned Warehouse"--Review

Victorique reveals that Avril had decided to hide the book she had found in the crypt in the library. (In a place no one was likely to look because the location was connected to one of the school's ghost stories.) The mysterious book contains a fairy tale about a golden-haired fairy that lives in a tower. The fairy is supposed to have knowledge of the entire world, and the price for asking her a question is the soul of the person asking the question. (Notably, Victorique is known as the Golden Fairy.) Also inside the book is a postcard addressed to Avril Bradley from a Sir Bradley. The postcard was never delivered. Victorique takes the post card and walks back upstairs, leaving Kujo very confused.

Still carrying the book, Kujo comes across Grevil, who is hanging out on the school grounds. Grevil reveals that he is investigating a burglar with the melodramatic name of "Phantom Thief Kuiaran." The burglar is apparently very famous, but has not been seen anywhere for the past seven years, until very recently. He states that this new Phantom Thief Kuiaran is a "second generation Kuiaran." Grevil's demeanor is rather thoughtful and preoccupied as he explains this, quite apart from his usual melodramatic manner, and Kujo questions this. Grevil becomes annoyed and denies being melodramatic (rather melodramatically). He tells Kujo to let him know if he sees anyone who looks suspicious and walks off.

Read the rest of this review at Associated Content.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kuroshitsuji/Black Butler Episode Twenty "His Butler, Escapes"--Review

We open with Lau talking about Zhou's dream ("Am I a human dreaming of being a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming of being human?") to the accompaniment of what looks like dream images or flashback to Lau's past. He continues to talk about dreams and we see him in a room cuddling with Ran Mao. She looks up at him in surprise, and Lau says that he is only joking. Ran Mao resumes cuddling Lau. Then we go to the opening credits.

Once back from the opening we have Sebastian, getting stripped by a torturer who is impressed by Sebastian's abs. Arthur Randall threatens Sebastian, telling him to confess. Sebastian chooses to confess to spreading the Black Plague. Randall thinks that he joking, and orders the torturer to beat him. The torturer clearly loves his work, and we fade to black as he's trying to decide where to begin.

The next scene is Ciel, who has been locked up in a much nicer looking prison. He has a brief hallucination of Sebastian serving him tea, but the image resolves in Abberline bringing him tea. (Ciel seems to be a little worried for Sebastian.) Abberline talks about himself, and questions Ciel about the situation. Abberline it seems does not believe in the accusation that has landed Ciel in rich noble jail. Ciel asks if he's finally being interrogated, but Abberline denies this, saying that the orders had only been to lock Ciel up. Ciel tells Abberline to not bother questioning him then; Ciel's "game" is only with the person behind the scenes, not Abberline.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Thread That Binds the Bones, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

311 pp. 

The Thread That Binds the Bones (A Chapel Hollow Novel)
Buy on Amazon.
The Thread That Binds the Bones is a pretty hard novel to find. (It is slightly easier to find related novel The Silent Strength of Stones and so far, Spirits That Walk in Shadows has not made an appearance at the local used book store.) I had originally sought this book out because I had read and liked The Silent Strength of Stones and from there started looking for the Matt Black books and reading her short stories. (I also eventually discovered the LaZelle Family books when they came out, which I also enjoyed.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Shiki, "Fifteenth Deceit" --Review

The opening is a montage of episodes that ends with Seishin's horrified face when he sees what Toshio has done to Kyoko. The next scene is Toru who has been leaving flowers under the window of Natsuno's window. He is extremely torn up about having killed Natsuno. Toru believes that Natsuno is dead, but there is some slight evidence that Natsuno is still around, then we go to the opening credits.

After the opening credits, we are back to just after Seishin walks into the operating room. This is a fairly gruesome scene with blood on the floor and blood on Toshio's hands. He is gripping a stake and a hammer. He does not seem to think anything wrong has just happened, and requests Seishin's help with cleaning up the mess. When he sees that Seishin is horrified and disgusted he attempts to defend himself. This seems to cause some kind of resolve in Seishin, because he turns around and heads out of the building without saying a word.

When Seishin returns home, he finds that his manuscript is on the floor. Someone has added some questions and critiques about the story to the pages. He goes through the manuscript, and it seems apparent that the plot of the story is somehow relevant to Seishin's attempts at suicide when he was younger.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dear Gina Bellafante, Your Review Stinks

Why did you bother reviewing a TV series based on a book in a genre you hate? Because you know, I tend to prefer reviewing things I like. In genres that I like. When I find a book or show that I don’t like, they are usually still within in a genre that I like. That is because like yourself, I am only interested in genres that I like, and I only watch or read within genres that I like. This is common sense. It would never occur to me to do a review on a tv show or book that was in a genre I have no interest in.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica Episode Five "There's No Way I'd Regret This"--Review

We open with the scene where Kyuube turns Sayaka into a magical girl. The scenery looks red and a little apocalyptic and Kyuube is sitting on some kind of throne-like column decorated with spiky, shadowy flames. Whatever Kyuube does to create a soul-gem appears to hurt. What makes the scene even more surreal is that despite the scenery, Kyuube's voice is completely cheerful and calm. Then we go to credits.

The next scene shows Sayaka, Madoka and Hitomi all in class. Hitomi appears to be very tired, which prompts Sayaka to ask how she's doing. Hitomi remembers having been at the scene, but does not appear to be aware that Sayaka rescued her from the witch in the previous episode. Sayaka tells her she should have stayed home, but Hitomi protests this.

Sayaka appears to be happy and at peace with her decision to become a magical girl. Madoka is a little worried for Sayaka, but is reassured by her friend. Madoka also still feels a great deal of guilt and distress over Mami's death.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Twilight’s Dawn by Anne Bishop

435 pp.

Twilight's Dawn: A Black Jewels Book
Available on Amazon.
Twilight’s Dawn consists of four novellas, some of which answer some unasked questions about things hinted at in Tangled Webs, The Shadow Queen and Shalador’s Lady. If you’re a fan of the Black Jewels series, you will probably like them, if you are not a fan of the series you will probably not be reading this anyway.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Shiki, "Fourteenth Death" --Review

We open with another mini-montage of the previous episode that resolves to Toshio taking care of a boy with a scraped knee. A sudden noise from upstairs causes Toshio to have a Very Bad Moment and the camera shows us a series of snapshots with a lot of spooky music. The final snap shot is on Kyoko who looks very dead. Then we go back to Toshio who looks startled and more than a little disturbed and spaced out. The kid sounds a little worried as he tries to get Toshio's attention, and the doctor snaps out of it--then we go to the opening credits.

After the scene, we encounter Atsushi, the son (or grandson, I missed the name and introduction captions when he first appeared) of Tomio, the guy who owns the liquor store. He is angry and resentful because he has been told not to smoke in the house and he has gotten beaten up for talking back to his grandmother. Then he meets Mrs. Kirishiki and he completely forgets about being angry for having been beaten up.

Mrs. Kirishiki obtains an invitation from him, and the scene fades out on her cleavage and fangs.

The next scene is Toshio at the clinic. One of the nurses comes in and is very upset because another of the nurses has gone missing. She tries to tell him about it, but Toshio doesn't appear to care. This upsets her a great deal, and she doesn't buy the excuse that Toshio is merely in a daze because of his wife. As she's talking a phone call comes in, and it's reported that Tokujiro has passed away.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sample: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Wolf Who Rules, by Wen Spencer

480 pp.

Wolf Who Rules (Elfhome, Book 2)
Available on Amazon.
In this sequel to Tinker, Our Heroine has to figure out how to deal with the very large mess she made in the previous book. Tinker has managed to permanently strand Pittsburgh on Elfhome and has also managed to turn Turtle Creek into a mushy dimensional discontinuity that’s been dubbed “the Ghostlands.” On top of that, she has to pick more sekasha for her “Hand” of bodyguards, something she isn’t particularly looking forward to doing and she’s receiving urgent messages and apologies from Riki, the tengu who had betrayed her to the oni in the previous book, and trying to learn magic and receiving “how to be an elf and married to Windwolf” lessons from various sources.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tiassa by Steven Brust

335 pp.

Tiassa (Vlad)
Buy on Amazon.
Tiassa takes place from multiple viewpoints and within a broad timeline. At the center of the story is a silver tiassa, a figurine with great and mysterious powers that had been created by a goddess. Aliera’s time and space travelling (technically paradoxical) daughter Devera steals (okay, borrows) the object and leaves it with whomever she feels needs it the most. The tiassa has an agenda of its own however and almost has as many adventures as the people (particularly Vlad) that come into contact with it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kuroshitsuji/Black Butler Episode Nineteen "His Butler, Jailed"--Review

The opening of this episode features a kid and an old man on a pole boat. The old man is talking about an old sailing ship. As he talks about the ship, which is named the Cutty Sark, Ran Mao appears, leaping through the air. Then the people in the boat come across a dead body in the water, and we go to the opening credits.

After credits, officers from Scotland Yard are trying to figure out the how and why of how the dead person ended up dead. One of the investigators is Abberline and the other is Lord Randall. The lord thinks that this might be connected to the Mafia or to a Chinese gang, possibly having to do with a new drug. The officers are interrupted by Ciel who states that the person who died was John Stanley, someone who worked for the Queen. Ciel has been charged with finding out who had murdered him. Sebastian hands over the information, and the lord asks what Ciel wants. Ciel says "information, duh." Randall states that isn't what Ciel actually wants, so Ciel says that what he wants is an item that will be found on the corpse.

Abberline however states that nothing was found on the corpse, not even anything to identify him. As he says this, the little boy from the boat seen before the opening credits jumps and runs away from the scene of the crime. (It seems that Sebastian is aware of it, his eyes are looking in the kid's direction.) Ciel thanks Abberline for his assistance and heads off (Randall growls about Ciel, but Abberline looks worried and unhappy). 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gosick Episode Four, "The Golden Thread Cuts Through a Passing Moment"--Review

The opening of this episode features Grevil melodramatically arresting Kujo on suspicion of murder. Kujo however repeated invokes Victorique's name, causing Grevil to take him to see Victorique to set things straight. Kujo is not a murderer; he is only the witness to a murder. It seems that Kujo had been out on an errand when he had seen someone on a motorbike pass by. As the rider had passed him, the rider's head fell off, and the bike had crashed. Victorique is quickly able to identify the cause of death as a very sharp wire that had been placed at about the right height to take someone's head off.

A very disgruntled Grevil releases Kujo and stalks off. Victorique tells Grevil that the suspect is a woman with blonde hair whose hand had been injured. Kujo asks Victorique how she knows this, and Victorique explains her reasoning. She notes that murder method is elaborate, indicating that the person was smaller than the victim, and that the suspect didn't want to confront the victim directly. She notes that the end of the wire also had blood on it, meaning that the suspect had possibly cut herself while securing the wire to the trees. Third, Kujo himself had seen a woman with long hair out of the corner of his eye. (The basis of this is that Kujo had been thinking about girls with long blonde hair shortly before the murder occurred.)

Random iNudge!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Soulless, by Gail Carriger

357 pp.

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate)
Available on Amazon.
Soulless is the first book of The Parasol Protectorate and it takes place in a steam-punkish Victorian England with vampires and werewolves (and the occasional evil cabal of mad scientists). Our Heroine is one Alexia Tarabotti, a young woman with a great deal of intelligence and an equal lack of soul. She is a preternatural and this lack of soul enables her to nullify the characteristics or abilities of vampires, ghosts and werewolves. This is an ability known only to a very few people (not even her family or friends know) and it places her in danger when she accidentally kills a vampire at a dinner party.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kuroshitsuji/Black Butler Episode Eighteen "His Butler, Transfers"--Review

We open with Ciel floating in some kind of void, surrounded by snippets of film. This is Ciel's Cinematic Record. He hears Angela's voice talking about the past. Ciel reaches out for one of the frames and has a sudden flashback of the fire that destroyed Ciel's home. This memory shows a lot more that previous flashbacks, and in it, we can see that Angela is standing beside a chair in which there is a slumped over figure. Her hands are red with blood, and she lifts the head of the figure, and we can see that someone (most likely Angela) has engaged in some creative taxidermy and has sewn pieces of Ciel's mother onto his father. Within the memory, Ciel reacts much in the way you would suspect someone would, seeing such a grisly scene.

After the opening credits, Grell and Sebastian appear in front of a building that Grell immediately identifies as the Library of the Grim Reapers. This is where the Cinematic Records collected by the Grim Reapers end up. They both hurry inside the building, where they are promptly attacked by Will who demonstrates his "infinitely extending pruning shears attack" on Grell and Sebastian. (Well he demonstrates on Sebastian, who moves out of the way but Grell gets the full effect.)