Friday, December 30, 2011

Blue Exorcist Episode Seventeen "Temptation"--Review

This episode opens with the swordsmith attempting to repair Rin's sword. The scene then cuts to Rin who has been imprisoned inside some kind of crystal. It does not look like he's going to be able to defend himself at his own hearing. Though he's unconscious, he twitches slightly, which causes some alarm from the council members, who demand that Mephisto do something. Mephisto however states that he can't, since he is simply a defendant in this case. His big plan for dealing with this case seems to be centered on the council giving him permission to go ahead with his plans. The council is tempted, but other parties object strongly to the proposal.

Meanwhile, various members of the Order are fighting Amaimon's forces. Shura and Arthur Angel try to hold him off, but he eventually manages to make it to the courtroom where Rin is being tried. Amaimon attacks the barrier, which destroys the crystal holding Rin. Mephisto is of course completely calm and tells the council that the "polls will be closing soon." Angel is not happy about this development and tries to argue against letting Mephisto have his way. A council member however overrules him, telling Mephisto to do whatever it takes to get rid of Amaimon.

Just as Mephisto gets ready to wake Rin up, Ryuji turns up with the sword, and yells at Rin for being asleep at a time like this. Amaimon makes a grab for Ryuji and the sword, but Ryuji is able to toss the sword to Shima who in turn tosses it to Izumo.

She is not happy about having been included in this game of keep-away, but tosses the sword to Yukio who is able to get the sword to Rin, and wake him up.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Review: A Conspiracy of Kings, by Megan Whalen Turner

316 pp.
Buy on Amazon
In The King of Attolia, we learned that Eugenides friend Sophos, the heir to the kingdom of Sounis had been kidnapped by rebels and then had disappeared. In A Conspiracy of Kings we find out what happened to him. (Essentially, he manages to jump directly from the frying pan, into the fire, yet manages not to get burned too badly.)

A Conspiracy of Kings opens with Sophos and the magus managing to make contact with Eugenides in Attolia. Sophos expects a greeting more friendly than he gets when he reveals that he is now (technically) the king of Sounis. (It had not occurred to him that announcing this means Political Ramifications and Eugenides is going to have to do what’s best for his kingdom first.) Sophos has to learn how to navigate a friendship that has to change to conform to his and Eugenides new positions.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

St. Martin’s Press
310 pp.
Buy on Amazon
First Grave on the Right is a urban fantasy/paranormal romance with a thin candy coating of mystery. Our Heroine is a private investigator named Charley Davidson who sees dead people. Or rather, they see her, because she is apparently “the light” you’re supposed to go toward when you die. She is the Grim Reaper, and she is largely responsible for helping first her father and then her uncle become police detectives. (It is super easy to solve murders if you can talk to the victim!)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Blue Exorcist Episode Sixteen "The Wager"--Review

The episode opens with a recap of the last few minutes of the previous episode before going to credits. The next scene after the opening we see the kids, Yukio and Shura getting out of Dodge. The kids are pretty confused about what's going on, and are in general pretty horrified by the blue conflagration going on behind them.

The scene shifts to Rin and Amaimon, who is beginning to look a little scared. Rin is completely out of control and basically trying to maul him. Mephisto however still seems pretty calm about Rin's berserk fury. He is just hanging around in a floating wingback chair watching Rin try to tear everything apart. During the flailing around Rin somehow gets knocked back to where the kids, Yukio and Shura are, flopped flat on his back.

Shiemi of course, immediately runs out to him. Yukio and Shura try to stop her, because it looks like Rin is to out of his mind to tell friend from foe. Shiemi however is pretty heedless, she rushes forward and embraces Rin, telling him everything is going to be all right. (Except for the part where he is a dead kid walking because his Secret is Revealed.)

Rin immediately calms down, and begins to collapse, prompting Yukio to rush forward to catch him.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Blue Exorcist Episode Fifteen “Act of Kindness”--Review

We open with a recap of the terms of this particular field exercise and an overview of the previous episode. After the recap, we see a Mothra-sized moth demon leap up out of the bog and grab onto Rin. Rin tries to get everyone to leave him, but Ryuji is deeply annoyed and offended by this. He declares that he and the rest of the group are going to help Rin. He managed to do something that makes the moth monster drop Rin, and everyone takes off running. (Since Ryuji apparently did not have the inherent fire power to dispose of the monster.)

The next scene after the opening credits is the kids, taking rest break after hopefully out-running the moth demon. There's a Tough Guy conversation between Rin and Ryuji where Ryuji claims that he was only settling a debt between them. Of course, after this Tough Guy Exchange, Ryuji yells at Rin for his habit of trying to handle things on his own, instead of letting his friends help him. Rin is gobsmacked, because he's never really had a friend before.

They return to camp to find that Izumo, and the kid with the rabbit puppet, a boy named Takara have managed to make it back on their own. (Izumo apparently made her familiars haul the lantern, we don't immediately know how Takara managed to feat.)

Shura is puzzled that all the kids are present and accounted for, because at least one of them should have set off the demon repelling firecracker.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reading Homestuck Part Eight: ==> John, you do not say no to cookies!

From here to here.

After a brief explanation from Nanna about the game-cosmology, it turns out that John has jumped to the wrong conclusion. While John is correct in the general concept of this stage of the game in which he must build his house high enough to reach the first gate and from there hopefully rescue his father, he’s dead wrong about later stages of play. He is jittering around rather enthusiastically because he believes that that next stage of the game is to solve the ultimate riddle mentioned earlier and save the earth from destruction. Nannasprite however informs him that this is not in fact the purpose of the game.

Poor John just kind of deflates at that, and he does not cheer up when Nannasprite tells him that the stakes are actually much higher than his “silly old planet.” (The unseen director appears to agree with Nanna.) She does not actually state what the actual goal is. Instead, she tells him that he’s a good boy, and that he deserves a treat. Then she goes through the wall, telling him she is going to bake him some cookies. The next prompt from the director tells him to follow his grandmother. (Okay, he refers to her as the hag, but still.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Mystic Archives of Dantalian Episode Three “Book of Wisdom”--Recap

We open with a number of extremely eerie children who are sitting in a school room. The children are discussing science and political events in a casual and indifferent manner. They appear to have a great deal of knowledge, but don't seem to care enough to use it for anything--they are quite happy with feeling bored and superior. They are nihilistic sinister hipster children with too-wide staring eyes. Then we go to the opening credits.

After credits, we see Huey and Dalian in a bookstore. They are doing a little book browsing when they run across Huey's childhood friend Camilla. Camilla is dressed in the latest fashion, which Dalian predictably does not approve of. (Dalian is never going to approve of any female character it seems.) Camilla runs a school, and during a casual conversation reveals that she is looking for textbooks for a school she runs. She invites Huey and Dalian to her home for tea. (She also offers Dalian candy in hopes of cheering Little Miss Sourpuss up. Dalian is not cheered up, but is easily swayed by the promise of scones and other treats.)

Dalian and Huey join Camilla for tea, and Dalian continues to be extremely snippy. Camilla however seems more amused than annoyed by Dalian's snippiness, and is equally critical of Dalian's clothes. Huey attempts to play peacemaker, with limited success.

(Dalian and Camilla have the situation well in hand, Huey. You don't need to help.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Book Review: Bold as Love, by Gwyneth Jones

Night Shade Books
277 pp.

Buy on Amazon
Gwyneth Jones is a great writer, and I find her work in general very readable, even if a lot of the time they are only one time reads. (This is not the case with this book. I have read and re-read this book dozens of times.) Bold as Love is a near future science fantasy with a chilling motif that borrows heavily from the fairytale type where the king tries to marry his own daughter (such as Donkeyskin, Allerleiruah, and so on). In general, child abuse and child endangerment is a recurring theme with this book, and some of the scenes and situations are extremely disturbing. (This is your friendly warning.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Book Review: The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

385 pp.
Buy on Amazon
In The King of Attolia, Eugenides has to figure out how to be king, when all he wanted was the queen. (Unfortunately, the queen and the gods are not letting poor Eugenides off the hook.) The Queen of Attolia’s subjects aren’t very enthused by the idea of Eugenides being their king and proceed to cause him a great deal of grief. The palace staff and even his attendants are harassing him, the nobility is on the very edge of insurrection, and there are conspiracies and assassins everywhere. On top of all that, Eugenides must also get used to being married to the woman he loves, who is also the Woman Who Did Very Bad Things to Him in A Very Public Way. (Eugenides and Irene have an extremely complicated and slightly frightening relationship.)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Reading Homestuck Part Seven: ==> John, weaponize your sylladex!

From here to here.

John is trying to read about data structures and how to deliberately turn his sylladex into a kind of catapult instead of doing it accidentally. The book is written in an aggressive style that John does not particularly care for. As he’s reading he’s arguing with the voice in his head, which is attempting to warn him about the monster behind him. John gets attacked by the monster in question. It’s a shale imp and the next part is an interactive section. The only command is AGGRIEVE. Hitting AGGRIEVE reveals that John is not up to the task of fighting yet. 

The next ==> command is for Rose. Rose is now outside. After noting the damage to the transformer near her house she unlogs her umbrella, which causes all of her other belongings to fall out. After gathering her things together again, she heads off. With the next command, which is a [S] (sound) command we go back to John, who is being scolded by the unseen director for having “fallen asleep.” The shale imp has the bunny and is apparently using it as a shield. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Review: Snuff, by Terry Pratchett

398 pp.
buy on Amazon
In Snuff, Vimes is railroaded into going on vacation at his wife’s country estate. He is not very happy at the prospect of being out in the country away from the sights and sounds he is familiar with. (He is also not too keen on hob-nobbing with the local nobs.) There is also a severe lack of bacon sandwiches, but this is mostly because his wife is making him eat in a more healthy fashion. The idyllic countryside turns out to be not so very idyllic after all when he uncovers a great deal of criminal activity, and certain activities which are criminal but are not against the law.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Mystic Archives of Dantalian Episode Two “Book of Fetus”--Recap

We open with Huey, who appears to be child and is in the mysterious library talking to the girl in white. The girl hands him a book and a tablet and tells him they are things he is going to need. She tells him that the library is about to close and that he should be going. (She is a librarian in a puffy white dress.) Before he goes he tells the girl in white that he'll be back, and then we go to the opening credits.

In this episode, Huey ends up taking on a job involving the assessment of a book collection. The person asking for this service is a young woman named Estella who is planning on selling the book collection of her now deceased grandfather. This had originally been a request to Huey's grandfather, but Huey decides to take it on. (Dalian makes snarky comments about having been beguiled by the check that Estella had sent with her initial contact letter.)

It turns out that there is something mysterious going on at the mansion where Estella lives. Estella lives completely alone at the mansion and the area where she lives is extremely isolated. Huey is a bit curious and concerned about this, while Dalian pretends not to care while also acting in a very jealous manner.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Review: The Queen of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner

279 pp.
Buy on Amazon.
I think this is going to be one of those series where I’m really glad that the other books are already available. (Though when I get done with the fourth book in the series I’m probably going to be miserable waiting for the next book.) The protagonists, setting and story continue to be intriguing, and the emotions and reactions of the characters to what happens in the novel are emotionally accurate and extremely intense.

In this sequel to The Thief, Eugenides has been engaging in a little espionage in the kingdom of Attolia. The Queen of Attolia is in no way happy about this since Eugenides previous adventure caused her to lose face in front of her barons. Since the Queen is in a very precarious position, she really wants to get her hands on Eugenides for the purpose of revenge. She gets her revenge, but she also gets a war. (The Queen of Eddis was not happy about what had happened to Eugenides, who is her cousin.)