Monday, September 28, 2015

Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain (audiobook) by A. Lee Martinez, narrated by Scott Aiello

Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain is humorous sci-fi. I got it on Audible. It's almost seven and a half hours long.

Again, no read-alikes. I'm finally making progress on this review backlog.

Review:

Emperor Mollusk is a squishy super-intelligent cephalopod. He spends most of his time inside robotic bodies he built for himself, and he does not handle boredom well. He took over the planet Earth just because he could, but then found himself at a loss. His mind control turned all human beings into peaceful Emperor Mollusk fans, leaving the planet defenseless against outside attacks. Or Emperor Mollusk's inventions run amok. When you're constantly busy creating new things, it's easy to lose track of the occasional enraged genetically modified creature.

Mollusk is now a retired supervillain. He's not looking for forgiveness and doesn't particularly feel bad about what he did (except for maybe Saturn, that went badly). He just wants to continue inventing things and keep Earth as safe as possible until the humans have completely gotten over his mind control and are ready to take care of themselves again. Unfortunately, someone seems to be trying to kill him. Zala, a Venusian warrior who looks like a feathered reptile, becomes his reluctant bodyguard.

Like Clockwork (audiobook) by Bonnie Dee, narrated by Helen Stern

Like Clockwork is a steampunk romance published by Carina Press. The e-book version is about 31,000 words long, while the audiobook version was a little over 3 hours.

Again, I haven't included any read-alikes.

Review:

I was so happy when I realized that Carina Press has several audiobooks on Audible priced at less than $5. I identified a few with interesting-sounding descriptions, culled the ones with truly terrible narrators, and then selected one that I knew I didn't already own in e-book form. The book I ended up with was this one, Like Clockwork. I listened to the full sample, but I didn't bother to hunt down the e-book excerpt. Maybe I should have. Or maybe it wouldn't have made a difference.

At any rate, on the surface this seemed like a good fit for me. I like steampunk, and the narrator sounded fine. There would potentially be automatons. Nice, right?

Wrong. Right from the start, the heroine annoyed me. She was involved in the creation of the automatons (actually, from what I could tell, the only thing she invented was their realistically human exteriors, but whatever), but she was horrified at how quickly society had adopted them. She had intended for them to replace humans in dangerous jobs, that's it, but instead people started assigning them to service positions. (One more thing: why did the automatons need realistically human exteriors if they were just going to be doing dangerous industrial jobs? Victoria really didn't think this through very well.) Victoria grudgingly had one as a butler, and she even spotted one taking care of a child. The horror! What would become of children raised by stiff, soulless, emotionless machines? And what about those reports Victoria had gotten of automatons spontaneously attacking humans? Later examination revealed nothing wrong with the automatons, so what was going on?

Problems in Organizing Library Collections (nonfiction book) by Doralyn J. Hickey

Problems in Organizing Library Collections is nonfiction. I got it via interlibrary loan.

There are no read-alikes because this isn't fiction, although I have to admit that I read it more for pleasure than for professional development.

Review:

Not long ago, a couple people in one of the cataloging Facebook groups I'm part of were reading this, and I thought it sounded like fun. The series it's part of deals with many areas of librarianship, but this particular volume looks at the problems faced by those making decisions about the cataloging, processing, and organization of libraries. It includes 30 case studies featuring real-life problems and fictional libraries and people. It ends with written analyses of two of those case studies.

Unfortunately, this book was originally published in 1972 and is more than a little dated. Although my library science courses covered some historical information, they were understandably focused on current and future practice. I've seen the National Union Catalog books, but I don't have a clue what went into putting it together, and I was never required to use them. I've seen and used a card catalog in the past decade or so, and my cataloging classes briefly covered some of the ways that the current cataloging rules were meant more for printed catalog cards than for a computerized environment. However, I've never had to catalog on actual cards. And that's not even getting into the terminology I flat out couldn't understand.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Angel of Elhamburg (manga) by Aki

The Angel of Elhamburg is, I guess, a fantasy manga, although the fantasy aspects are very light. It’s published by Yen Press. I got it via ILL.

I'm super behind on my reviews, so I'm going to skip putting together a read-alikes list for this since I have a feeling it would take me a while.

Review:

The Angel of Elhamburg is about two friends, Madeth and Lalvan (or possibly Lalva – either someone at Yen Press screwed up, or "Lalva" is a nickname, because both versions are used in the text). When Madeth and Lalvan saw how the current lord was mistreating the people, they decided to do something about it. Lalvan was the one who fought the best and won all the battles, but Madeth was the one that everyone gathered around, leaving Lalvan secretly jealous of his childhood friend. A part of him couldn’t help but look down upon Madeth, who he saw as being less accomplished than himself. After all, Lalvan did everything for Madeth. He even wrote Madeth’s love letters for him, since Madeth couldn’t hardly read or write and cared nothing for poetry.

Lalvan is reminded of his jealousy every time he sees the Angel of Elhamburg. The angel kissed Madeth, blessing him the same way it had blessed the previous lord of the castle, but it kept its distance from Lalvan, even though Lalvan was the only one who could see it. Unfortunately, what Lalvan doesn’t realize is that he isn’t the only one hiding a secret, festering jealousy, and the next generation has to deal with the consequences.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

White Haired Witch (live action movie), via Netflix

White Haired Witch is a Chinese wuxia fantasy movie that Wikipedia tells me is loosely based on a novel. I spotted it in Walmart a while back and almost bought it several times, because the cover art was so pretty and because I thought it might be a gorgeous fantasy romance. Thank goodness I never caved, because it would be on my “to sell or donate” pile now.

Warning: this post includes spoilers.

This movie was complicated and confusing. I took a few notes here and there, but I'm sure my summary will get details wrong. Anyway, Zhuo Yihang is the movie's hero. He lived in some kind of monastery (or martial arts school? I have no clue). After he was declared the new head of the community, he was sent to deliver a red pill to the emperor (or king? I forget which title was used). Along the way, he met and was intrigued by a beautiful nameless warrior woman.

The emperor's eunuch secretly withheld the red pill from the emperor, resulting in the emperor's death. Yihang was accused of killing him, but Yihang had already left and ended up in Fort Luna. Fort Luna stood between two warring countries, and one side's army had been trying to take it over for ages. While at Fort Luna, Yihang met the nameless lady again and gave her the name Lian Nishang. Although Nishang had promised her teacher that she'd never fall in love, she ended up falling in love with Yihang. Unfortunately, the two lovers were soon separated, as the forces that had been sent to capture Yihang found him.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Part One, Episodes 1-13 (anime TV series), on DVD

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a fantasy anime set mostly in the year 1914 of a sort of alternate universe. It's based on the Fullmetal Alchemist manga by Hiromu Arakawa. The manga had been made into an anime before, but because that anime aired before the manga was completed, it was forced to go in its own direction. FMA: Brotherhood is a reboot that's supposed to follow the manga more closely.

(A quickie note: I watched this boxed set with the English dialogue turned on, because I happen to love the English-language track for this series. I may rewatch the whole thing in Japanese later.)

The series is about two young brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who lost their mother when they were only 11 and 10 years old. The brothers trained themselves in alchemy, secretly intending to perform the ultimate alchemist's taboo: using human transmutation to bring their mother back to life. Unfortunately, something went wrong. Al lost his whole body, and Ed lost a leg. A distraught Ed gave up one of his arms to bond Al's soul to a suit of armor. From that point on, the brothers' goal shifted. Ed became a state alchemist at the age of 15, so that he could more freely do research on the Philosopher's Stone, the one thing that might be able to get the brothers their bodies back.
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