Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The current status of my anime reviewing

Update (6/24/16): I've received my third DMCA takedown notice. The first one was on the 17th, so that makes three in just a week. This one was for my review of Taisho Baseball Girls, which I bought on DVD - watching stuff via streaming services definitely isn't the problem. I've written my third counter-claim and saved some default text I can copy and paste for the next DMCA takedown notice, because at this point I wouldn't be surprised if there were another one. I've written 110 anime reviews over the years, so there's a lot that could be targeted.

I'm starting to think that I should change the way I title my posts, maybe put the word "review" at the beginning. Nearly all of my posts are reviews, so it feels a bit silly, but it's the only thing I can think of that would help distinguish my posts from those with illegal downloads.

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Update (6/22/16): A discussion on BookLikes led to me deciding to submit counter-claims for both posts. They're both reviews and should both be covered under fair use (thanks to Libromancer's Apprentice for reminding me of this), regardless of my having watched the shows via streaming services. I had already edited the Angelic Layer post a bit and couldn't remember what it used to look like, so I'm crossing my fingers that doesn't turn out to be a problem. Now I get to see how long it takes to find out what happens next. At least I haven't gotten any more bogus DMCA takedown notices since that second one.

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I had been wondering why I had been getting so many pageviews in the past month, and I think I might finally know the answer: bots scanning my blog for possible copyright violations. In the past week, I've received two DMCA takedown notifications, one for my review of the Angelic Layer anime and one for my review of the This Boy Can Fight Aliens anime (the links point to the DMCA complaints to Google, so you can see just how little information I'm given).

The problem (besides the fact that the takedown notifications were issued in the first place): as far as I can tell, there's no way for me to find out what, specifically, prompted the takedown notices. I scanned both posts, and the only links they include are ones to Anime News Network encyclopedia pages. If that's a problem, a huge chunk of my blog is doomed, because ANN is what I link to every time I recommend an anime or manga series as a watch-alike or read-alike.

The other possibility is that I viewed both series via streaming services. I won't name them outright, because at this point I'm worried that the wrong combination of keywords might get this post taken down (yeah, I'm paranoid), but I'll say that Angelic Layer was viewed via a streaming service beginning with the letter J. I don't think it exists anymore. I'm pretty sure it was legal, but maybe I'm wrong. This Boy Can Fight Aliens, however, was most definitely viewed on a legal streaming service, a currently existing one beginning with the letter H.

The email I received tells me that "You may edit the post to remove the offending content and republish, at which point the post in question will be visible to your readers again." However: "If it is brought to our attention that you have republished the post without removing the content/link in question, then we will delete your post and count it as a violation on your account. Repeated violations to our Terms of Service may result in further remedial action taken against your Blogger account including deleting your blog and/or terminating your account."

Like I said, I can only guess that the mentions of the streaming services are what caused my blog posts to be taken down. I haven't decided yet whether it's worth risking my entire blog to edit out what I think is the offending content and repost, but at the moment I'm leaning towards "it's not worth the risk." I now own a DVD copy of This Boy Can Fight Aliens, so I might write a new post or heavily edit my old post with that in mind. My Angelic Layer post is likely going to stay in draft forever. I'm crossing my fingers that none of my other blog posts get a takedown notice, but since I'm still getting slammed with mysterious pageviews, I'm not holding my breath.

If you start to notice that more of my older anime reviews are missing, this is why. As far as any posts from here on out go, I think I'm going to drop my policy of stating where I watched shows and movies. If I watched something on DVD, Blu-ray, or at the movie theater, I'll say so, but that's it. And I might as well apply this to everything, not just anime.

I'm still trying to decide if I should stop linking to Anime News Network, in case that's the real problem. I suppose it depends on any additional takedown notices I'm given.

Oh, and if the problem turns out to be that I wrote reviews of series I wasn't supposed to review (a bizarre thought)...I may stop reviewing anime entirely, or experiment with only posting them on LibraryThing. Here's hoping it doesn't come to that.

ETA: I just came across this, posted by someone who has a similar experience, fought the DMCA takedown notice, and got their content reinstated. Hm. I'll keep it in mind in case more of my posts get takedown notices.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Cybernetic Tea Shop (e-novella) by Meredith Katz

The Cybernetic Tea Shop is f/f asexual romance (sci-fi romance?). It's 22,980 words long and is published by Less Than Three Press.

Review:

Clara is a drifter whose ability to repair Raises, Robotic Artificially Intelligent Synthetic Entities (sentient robots with animal forms), means that she can find work nearly everywhere she goes. When Clara visits the Cybernetic Tea Shop on the advice of her newest boss, she's shocked to see that the owner is a 278-year-old android named Sal. It has long been illegal to create sapient androids, and Sal is one of the few remaining models built prior to the law being passed. Although her owner died a long time ago, Sal does her best to see out the woman's dream: keeping the Cybernetic Tea Shop open for 300 years.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Heart Quest (book) by Robin D. Owens

Heart Quest would probably be classified as futuristic romance (a romance subgenre generally used for stuff that is technically sci-fi romance but feels a lot like fantasy romance).

Review:

Trif Clover desperately wants to find her HeartMate, to the point where she has decided to risk ridicule and embarrassment by going door to door throughout the city and looking for him with her charmkey. What she doesn't realize is that he's living in her apartment building.

Guardsman Ilex Winterberry made sure to wait until after Trif had searched her building before moving in. He wishes he could court her properly but 1) he's 25 years her senior and feels that he's far too old for her and 2) he's had visions that tell him he'll die soon, and HeartMates always die within a year of each other. He refuses to cut Trif's life short. All he'll allow himself to do is watch over her and be her friend. As he investigates a recent series of murders, he worries about Trif's similarity to the victims and does his best to keep her safe.

Black Gate (manga, vols. 1-3) by Yukiko Sumiyoshi, translated by Ajani A. Oloye

Black Gate is fantasy. This omnibus volume contains the entire series.

Review:

When people die, their souls move on via White Gates. However, there are also such things as Black Gates, Gates that forcibly suck the souls out of living humans, causing mysterious suicides, murders, or massive disasters. People known as Mitedamashi find Black Gates and close them.

Senju is a Mitedamashi taking care of a young boy named Hijiri, the world's only surviving Gatekeeper. In theory, Gatekeepers are even more powerful than Mitedamashi, possessing the power to close all Gates and end death forever, but Hijiri can't even manage to close the smallest Black Gate. This bothers him, but what he doesn't realize is that having his full Gatekeeper powers could put him in the same situation that ultimately led to his father's death.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

His Favorite (manga, vol. 8) by Suzuki Tanaka, translated by Katherine Schilling

His Favorite is a m/m romantic comedy. It's published by SuBLime.

I opted not to include any read-alikes in this post. Check out my posts for volumes 1 through 5 if you'd like some.

Review:

I've written this review assuming that anyone reading it has either read the previous volume in this series or doesn't care about spoilers for past volumes. You've been warned.

Okay, so this volume basically has four separate stories. First, Sato is bummed because he's going to be forced to go on a family trip from Christmas to the start of the new year. Yoshida accidentally upsets him and then meets an old man who may or may not be Santa Claus. In the next part of the volume, Machiko, the student council president, comes up with a plan that she thinks will guarantee her a spot next to Sato at a warm kotatsu. After that, readers get to see where things stand between Azuma and Nishida. Sato proves to be more helpful than I expected. The volume wraps up with a class field trip, which is particularly special because it's Sato's very first field trip ever.

Guards! Guards! (audiobook) by Terry Pratchett, narrated by Nigel Planer

Guards! Guards! is fantasy, Book 8 in the Discworld series.

Review:

If you look up the wonderful “Discworld Reading Order” guide, this is listed as the first of the City Watch novels. The mostly ineffectual Night Watch, consisting of Captain Vimes, Sergeant Colon, Corporal Nobbs, and Carrot Ironfoundersson, the Watch's new volunteer, finds itself dealing with a secret brotherhood and the dragon the brotherhood has called into being. They receive help from Lady Sybil Ramkin, a swamp dragon breeder, and the Librarian of the Unseen University, an orangutan.

From the Heart (book) by Nora Roberts

From the Heart is a collection of three romance novels.

I decided not to include any read-alikes. Also, my post contains a slight spoiler for Endings and Beginnings, the third novel in the collection.

Review:

From the Heart contains three of Nora Roberts' early romance novels: Tonight and Always (1983), A Matter of Choice (1984), and Endings and Beginnings (1984). They're not related in any other way – no characters in common, and even the tones are different. Tonight and Always is the lightest of the bunch, with conflicts that are either internal or rooted in family. A Matter of Choice is romantic suspense. Endings and Beginnings, like Tonight and Always, has more internal conflict, but includes bursts of adrenaline due to the characters' profession (they're both TV reporters).

I'll write about each novel separately and then end my review with a bit about the volume as a whole. If you want the short version: Endings and Beginnings is good, while the rest of the volume can safely be skipped.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Player of Games (book) by Iain M. Banks

The Player of Games is science fiction, the second book in Banks' Culture series. I normally try to start with the first book in a series, but I was advised by several people in a reading group to begin with this one.

Review:

Gurgeh is possibly the Culture's best game player. He has studied and played games his whole life (somewhere between 60 or 100 years, I wasn't quite sure). The problem is that he's bored. There are few truly new games for him to discover and learn, and few players who are a proper match for him. He yearns to do something no game player has ever done, and that yearning results in a mistake that allows a devious little drone to blackmail him.

Faced with the possibility of a ruined reputation, Gurgeh has no choice but to accept the secret mission Special Circumstances believes he's uniquely suited for. He is to travel to the Empire of Azad, a place outside the Culture, and take part in their biggest and most complex game, a game so important that the empire itself is named after it. The game determines everything, from one's place in the empire to what government position one may hold – and the winner gets to be emperor.

The Goblin Emperor (audiobook) by Katherine Addision, narrated by Kyle McCarley

The Goblin Emperor is a fantasy novel set in an industrial steampunk world.

Review:

I read and reviewed the e-book version of The Goblin Emperor only a month ago, so I'm not going to go into too much detail in this review. If you'd like info about the story and how I felt about it, check that review out. My feelings aren't that much different after listening to the audiobook. Here are some new things I can say:

Even though I loved this book enough to immediately look it up on Audible, I wouldn't have bought the audiobook if the narration had irked me. Kyle McCarley was a great fit – he sounded like he could be Maia, and he did a good job differentiating between the various characters. I didn't compare his pronunciation to Katherine Addison's pronunciation guide, so all I could really note was that the way he pronounced Maia's mother's name was correct (I distinctly remember that one, because I realized part of the way through the book that I'd mentally been pronouncing her name wrong, the way the elves would have rather than the way the goblins would have). His pronunciation of everything else seemed consistent, and I don't recall him stumbling over the names or fantasy words even once.

Little Robot (graphic novel) by Ben Hatke

Little Robot is a children's graphic novel.

I've opted not to include any read-alikes for this.

Review:

I recently cataloged this for the library where I work. I thought it looked cute, so I checked it out.

The story's pretty short: a little girl (we're never told her name) skips school and goes off to play on her own. A few hours earlier, a box fell out of a truck and landed in a river. The girl finds the box, opens it, and accidentally starts up the robot inside. The girl and robot have fun playing together, but their budding friendship is threatened by their differences (the little robot is aware that it's not human and wants to meet others like itself) and by the large and menacing robot that wants to take the little robot back to its factory.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Dragondrums (book) by Anne McCaffrey

Dragondrums is technically sci-fi, but it reads like fantasy. I don't know how it was originally marketed, but nowadays it could work as a YA novel.

I've opted not to include any read-alikes this time around. Also, my review includes character relationship spoilers and possible spoilers for the main storyline.

Review:

This final book in the Harper Hall trilogy stars Piemur, the young apprentice who became Menolly's first friend at Harper Hall. Unlike Dragonsinger, which took place immediately after Dragonsong, Dragondrums takes place about three years later (it's mentioned that Menolly has had three Turns of instruction from Master Shonagar).

Piemur is looking forward to singing Lessa's part in Master Domick's newest song, but then something horrible happens: his voice breaks. Piemur's voice was the best thing he had going for him, musically, and there's no telling if he'll still sound as good when it finally settles. In the meantime, Masterharper Robinton has a job for him. He wants Piemur to put his natural gossip collection skills to good use and act as his spy, gathering information about the Oldtimers while pretending to be a regular drum apprentice.

Foreigner (book) by C.J. Cherryh

Foreigner is science fiction.

Review:

At the beginning of this book, the starship Phoenix accidentally ends up lost in space, far away from its original destination and anywhere else familiar to its human crew. Approximately 150 years later (I think), it comes across the atevi homeworld. First contact with the atevi is nerve-wracking but appears to go well until a cultural misunderstanding of some sort results in a war that almost wipes the human colonists out. A treaty is established that allows the human colonists to live on a single island, Mospheira, in exchange for sharing information about their more advanced technology via a paidhi, an interpreter and the sole human allowed to live among the atevi.

Approximately 200 years later, we are in the book's present. Bren Cameron is the current paidhi. He thinks he had a good handle on his job and a good relationship with Tabini, the aiji (leader) most closely associated with the human colonists, until he's attacked by an assassin. While assassination is an accepted part of atevi culture, this situation is unheard of for a human paidhi. As Bren tries to figure out what's going on and where he went wrong, he finds himself becoming increasingly isolated, prevented from contacting Mospheira and unsure of who he can trust among the atevi.

His Favorite (manga, vol. 7) by Suzuki Tanaka, translated by Ivana Bloom

His Favorite is a m/m romantic comedy. It's published by SuBLime.

I opted not to include any read-alikes in this post. Check out my posts for volumes 1 through 5 if you'd like some.

Review:

Yoshida is secretly still stressing about being a virgin. When he once again meets that cute high school girl who inexplicably has a crush on him (and who he still doesn't realize is Murakami, a guy in drag), he wonders if he might soon have an opportunity to lose his virginity.

After that, the volume focuses on a new transfer student, Takeru Azuma. Azuma hates Yoshida on sight even though, as far as Yoshida knows, they've never met. Nishida may know what's going on, but first Yoshida has to track him down – the guy is constantly busy saving people.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

BookLikes may have been sold

I originally posted this over at BookLikes, but I'll reblog it here in case BookLikes suddenly disappears. Which, considering that no one on the site has had any contact with BookLikes employees since maybe May 19th, is a very real concern.

In light of the stuff reported in my original post, I plan to try to recreate my BookLikes reading lists over at LibraryThing and maybe use a LibraryThing export to get my Goodreads shelves back to something resembling up-to-date. I'm not really a big fan of Goodreads, but I loved the social interaction over at Booklikes, and Goodreads is, as far as I know, the only other site capable of providing something similar. Crossing my fingers that BookLikes continues to exist and thrive.

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In case you aren't following the Bug Reports discussion, YouKneeK and I have come across some details that may indicate that Booklikes was sold.

YouKneeK found that Dawid Piaskowski stopped being Booklikes' "CEO and cofounder" in April 2016. I discovered that Joanna Grzelak-Piaskowska, Booklikes' other cofounder and owner, sold Booklikes in 2016 ("After selling Okazjum.pl to Bauer Media Group in 2015 and BookLikes in 2016, Joanna with her husband are already working on something new."). Considering the info about Dawid, I would guess that the sale happened sometime last month.

I've searched Google and several business and company info databases and have been unable to find anything about the new owner(s). Dawid Piaskowski is still listed as the owner of the site's domain name.

If anyone finds any other info, please let the rest of us know! At the moment, I'm most concerned about the owner's plans. If they intended to keep the site running, wouldn't they have introduced themselves? And, if they didn't intend to keep it running, what did they buy it for? All I can think that they might want is any data it has generated or collected. Which is a little worrisome.

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[Additional developments, 5/30/16] BookLikes tweeted this today:


They still haven't commented directly on the site (since May 19th, I think?), although supposedly they will soon.

This response leaves me feeling confused, since it doesn't jibe at all with what was written in The Hundert, but it's possible there was an error in translation or something.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fox's Bride (e-book) by A.E. Marling

Fox's Bride is self-published fantasy. It's 87,190 words long.

I couldn't think of enough read-likes and watch-alikes to make it worth including them as a separate list, but those who'd like another fantasy detective and who enjoyed the tomb raiding scenes might want to watch the movie Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.

Review:
 
Hiresha is visiting Oasis City, a place reminiscent of ancient Egypt, when she has the bad luck to be chosen as the Golden Scoundrel's next bride. True, the Golden Scoundrel is a god inhabiting the body of an incredibly adorable fennec fox, but no matter how adorable he is, Hiresha had always planned on one day marrying a human being. She refuses to agree to marry an animal, especially once she learns that the marriage is supposed to happen in the afterlife. She and the fox are scheduled to be entombed together in four days.

That just won't do, so Hiresha tries to escape with her maid and friend, Janny, and her bodyguard, Chandur. Unfortunately, the Golden Scoundrel disappears at around the same time. Chandur is accused of kidnapping her and stealing the fox and will be put to death in less than two days if Hiresha can't find both the true thief and the fox. And then she still has to figure out how to avoid her own scheduled death.
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