Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review: Midnight Lamp by Gwyneth Jones

326 pp.

The only bad thing about getting books by Inter-Library Loan is that if you put a loan on a series, it is guaranteed that you will get them all in the wrong order. This is the case with Midnight Lamp, which is the third book in the “Bold as Love” series, but which I have read second after the first book. Fortunately, this is not a major problem in following the plot, since the events of the second book are gone over in outline since the characters are currently recovering from said events. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Blue Exorcist Episode Twenty One “The Secret Garden”--Review

This episode begins with a view of the herb shop where Shiemi lives with her mother. We can hear a news report on the radio (about the hostage situation at the Academy) as we get a view of Shiemi at the front counter. Her mother leaves on an errand. Then there's a loud crashing noise. When Shiemi investigates, she finds an unconscious woman in her garden. Shiemi attempts to lift the woman, but the woman is too heavy. Volunteers to assist in the form of a horde of plant spirits arrive, and then we go the opening credits. 

When we get back from the opening credits, Yukio is meeting with some variety of Church official. This gentleman states that he is Yukio's grandfather. (Special note: Among the many things the creator of the series may not care about, the fact that Roman Catholic priests are celibate is apparently one. This tends to be a recurring blindspot with many mangaka.) He explains that since Lord Pheles was named as the twin's guardian by their dad Fujimoto has been arrested, that he will be taking over as their guardian. Yukio is a bit ambivalent about this overture, but the old man explains that he was unable to care for the twins because he had been imprisoned after the Church executed his daughter as a witch. The church official manages to win Yukio over, and reveals to Yukio a grand scheme to protect the human world from demons.

In the next scene, Rin returns to the school from the monastery. When he learns that Mr. Noihaus is in the Great Cell being interrogated, Rin decides that he wants to sit in on the interrogation.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book Review: Honor’s Paradox, by P.C. Hodgell

  267 pp.

Buy on Amazon
In Honor’s Paradox, Jame completes her training at Tentir despite continuing attempts by other houses to get her kicked out. The general operation of the plot tends to revolve around Jame being a catalyst of sorts for correcting problems that she comes across. (This could be said to be the case for all of the books, but in this case, the beneficial results outweigh the usual negative and catastrophic ones.) Various secrets are revealed, Tori shows a lot of progress in learning to accept Shanir in general and his sister in specific, and Kindrie continues to develop a spine. (As a special bonus, Graykin also seems to be developing a sense of perspective.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Mystic Archives of Dantalian Episode Four “Book of Soul Exchange”--Recap

This episode is extremely reminiscent of Misery, by Stephen King. The episode opens with a man typing. We discover that he is a prisoner of some kind when a woman unlocks the door to his room and enters. The woman is clearly unhappy about something that the man wrote, but the man protests that a bargain is a bargain. This is definitely the wrong thing to say, because that is when the knife comes out. Then we go to the opening credits.

In the scene following the credits, Dalian is experiencing the most incredibly frustrating thing ever experienced by any reader: she has completed the second book of an unfinished trilogy. She is outraged, but Huey is amused. He explains that the trilogy will remain unfinished because the writer died before writing the final book. This is of course very upsetting to Dalian. During the course of the discussion we learn that the writer, Lenny Lents had attempted to contact Huey's grandfather, claiming to be held prisoner by a book. This is all Dalian needs to hear. She immediately insists that they go seek out Lenny Lents.

We next see a woman at a water pump outside of a large house in the middle nowhere. Anthony and Dalian turn up, and ask the woman some questions about Lenny Lents. The woman claims to be Paula Lents, Lenny Lents wife, and states that Lenny is not dead, he is simply being reclusive as he's working on his next book. After some more conversation, the woman agrees to let them meet with Lenny the next day. Dalian and Huey head back to the car, and Dalian reads the dedication in the book she's carrying which is made "in loving memory" to Lenny Lents wife. She notes that the wife "should not be there," but Huey says, "who else could she be?" 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Moribito Episode One "Balsa the Female Body Guard"--Review

Moribito is about a young woman named Balsa who has sworn to save the lives of eight people. She is a mercenary who works as a body guard and has achieved a great deal of notoriety in her time. Balsa is given the responsibility of protecting a young prince who may or may not be possessed by a water demon who will (allegedly) bring about a drought if the prince isn't slain. The story is about protecting the prince and finding out what exactly is really going on, because there are a great many layers to the story.

We open with Balsa returning to the country of Yogo where she had grown up. It has been two years since she left and she is rather happy to be back. We learn that she is not a native of this country; she is originally from a country called Kanbal where apparently it is more likely you'll find women warriors. Balsa has returned to Yogo for among other reasons, in order to get her spear fixed.

While she's walking she sees a royal procession. As the procession crosses a bridge, the ox pulling the cart goes berserk and falls over and the occupant, a young boy falls into the water. Balsa goes in after him. After a very strange moment where the boy starts glowing and they're both surrounded by a bubble of light, she hauls him out of the water.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Review: After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn

304 pp.

Buy on Amazon
After the Golden Age is a novel of the “deconstruct the superhero genre” persuasion. Since I am not a very big fan of superhero comics, it took me a while to get around to reading it. Our Heroine is Celia West, the only daughter of Captain Olympus and Spark, the foremost superheroes of Commerce City. Celia has no superhero talents of her own, and is every criminal and supervillain’s idea of a good kidnap victim. For various reasons having to do with family dysfunction and a very extreme expression of teen rebellion, she is estranged from her family.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blue Exorcist Episode Twenty “Mask”--Review

This episode opens with Yukio reminiscing about when he was growing up at the monastery with Rin. Then the scene cuts to Rin and Yukio running up to the monastery which is surrounded by exorcists from the Knights of the True Cross. Inside the monastery are more exorcists and streamers of what looks like webbing. Something had apparently gotten in, and wrapped all of the monks at the monastery in webbing. There is also a note, a threat from the mysterious webslinger stating that he or she would not tolerate anyone who had any connection to Rin and Yukio. The monks were able to protect themselves somewhat, but the exorcists have an eight hour time frame in which to rescue the monks from the cocoons.

Rin of course goes rushing off, wanting to hunt down the webslinger, and Yukio takes off after him. They argue, with Yukio pointing out that Rin should not be running off half-cocked, and Rin voicing his usual complaints about his "younger brother" always bossing him around. (Rin. You and he are twins. It does not really matter that much which of you is older.) Rin breaks free and manages to get ambushed by the webslinger who is wearing a mask and a hood. The webslinger seals his sword into its scabbard and threatens him. Then Yukio arrives and the webslinger escapes. Rin takes off after the webslinger but runs into Shura who has also arrived at the scene.
Shura scolds him for not thinking, but Rin does not really care.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reading Homestuck Part Nine: ==> Dave: You’ve left him hanging long enough!

From here to here.

Once in the hallway, Dave removes a marionette from a door only to be confronted with a Mr. T puppet. The living room is also apparently Dave’s Bro’s bedroom, and is extremely messy. It’s filled with puppets and electric cords. There is one puppet in particular that Bro is particularly fond of, and who lives in it’s own chest when Bro is not taking him out on gigs. 

This is Lil’ Cal.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Review: Life, by Gwyneth Jones

Aqueduct Press
368 pp.

Buy on Amazon
Life is a long ramble of a novel in which not a lot takes place except a lot of relationship drama. There are also a great many examples of covert and overt sexism which the focus character tries very hard not to notice. It takes place in the near future and among other things, involves social justice, genetic engineering, commercial science and a mysterious possible genetic shift that may or may not have far-reaching consequences.

The book mostly follows the life of two women.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Blue Exorcist Episode Nineteen "An Ordinary Day"--Review

We open with Yukio, who is running some kind of test on his own blood. We see that the mysterious marks that had originally appeared on his shoulder have reached his lower arm. Then we cut to a view of the school and then the classroom, where Shima is doing horoscopes for the female students. Rin wants Shima to do his horoscope, but Shima declares he can only do horoscopes for girls. (Rin however is not willing to take no for an answer.) While Rin is being a complete dork and Ryuji is wondering how Rin could possibly be that much of one, Shiemi suddenly realizes that Izumo's birthday is coming up. Then we go to credits.

When we come back from the opening credits, Shiemi has taken the lead and has drafted the entire class into helping with preparing for a surprise party for Izumo. Ryuji however is not very interested in participating, though Shima and points out that they voted on having the party. Unfortunately, while Shiemi is good at coming with the idea of a party, she is not nearly as good at actually planning for one. (She has never really had one, before.)

The entire class begins to make plans, but get bogged down by petty arguments. Ryuji eventually gets completely annoyed with everyone and begins issuing orders and directions for who is going to go do what. He puts Shima in charge of presents, including research for what Izumo might like, and puts Konekomaru and Rin in charge of baking the cake.

Konekomaru is extremely unhappy about this assignment, both because he's still a little afraid of Rin and also because he's only made Japanese-style confections

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Book Review: Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones

St. Martin’s Press
307 pp.

In Second Grave on the Left, Our Heroine Charley continues to search for Reyes while trying to solve a missing person case complicated by a string of murders. (Reyes does not want to be found, Charley does not care.) There is also a lot of family drama, multiple threats to Charley, and a ghost in the trunk of her best friend’s car. If that wasn’t enough, something is also going on with Charley’s father, something involving a criminal who blames him for a personal tragedy.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Blue Exorcist Episode Eighteen "Friends"--Review

The opening of this episode is a replay of the last few minutes of the previous episode. Rin and Izumo are attacked by a demon. The demon, which looks like some kind of bird, knocks Rin around, but Yukio arrives in time to drive it off, and then we go to opening credits.

The next scene is the rest of the class discovering Rin and Izumo cleaning up the mess left behind by the bird demon. We discover that classes have been canceled so that everyone can go find the demon and check all the barriers to find out how the thing got in. The class is assigned to checking the barriers, but Rin is held back so he can continue his training exercise.

In the next scene, we learn that Konekomaru has been missing since at least this morning. Shima is wondering if this is a sign that Konekomaru may be thinking of leaving the cram-school, but Ryuji doesn't want to believe that this could be possible.

He states that Konekomaru made a promise to become an exorcist, and doesn't believe it's possible that Konekomaru would quit.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

Quirk Books
348 pp.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has a lot in common with one of those writing exercises where you take a picture and write a story about it. In this case, we have a novel based on a number of old photographs involving trick photography. The story spun from the photographs is one of temporal shenanigans, people with mysterious magical abilities and tentacle monsters.