Friday, December 30, 2016

All Romance Ebooks is shutting down

Smart Bitches Trashy Books has a good post on what's going on right now. The site gave authors, publishers, and customers mere days worth of notice that they'll be shutting down 12/31 on midnight. Even worse, authors won't be paid the full amount they're owed, and any books purchased after 12/27 are basically free money for ARe (that's got to be illegal, right?). They're outright stealing from authors, as well as from readers who pre-ordered books and don't send a refund request through before January 1st.

All Romance Ebooks is where I started buying ebooks. I really liked their "buy 10, get 1 free" deal, as well as their occasional rebate sales (you got a percentage of what you spent back in Ebook Bucks, which you could apply to future purchases). I bought a lot of books from them that I probably wouldn't have gotten otherwise - books published by Bold Strokes Books, for example, tend to be a little pricey. Same with Loose Id's books. Without ARe, I might not have discovered Jane Fletcher's largely wonderful Celaeno series, or many other favorite books.

That said, I've used the site less and less in the past few years. There seemed to be a significant drop in the frequency of their 50% rebate sales. I started buying a lot of books direct from Samhain Publishing, Carina Press, and even occasionally Bold Strokes Books. I started using Smashwords, learned about Humble Bundles and Story Bundles, and began buying ebooks from Kobo. ARe's closure shrinks the pool of places I can buy ebooks, but I've found lots of other options, so this doesn't hurt as much as it would have a few years ago. It also helps that my romance reading has gone way down - I've been more of a sci-fi/fantasy reader lately.

I have all the books I bought from ARe downloaded and backed up, although it makes me a little nervous that my backups will be it from here on out. Looking on the bright side, my reading tastes have changed a lot since I first started using ARe, and many of the books I got from them are ones that I'm no longer interested in reading. But still.

I checked my Ebook Bucks situation, and thankfully I only had a few pennies. I tended to spend my Ebook Bucks during sales, turning 50% rebate sales into 50% off sales with a little help from spreadsheets.

So, I guess that's it. ::sigh::

Currently rewatching: Big Windup!

Yuri on Ice left me with a craving for more sports anime, so I snagged a copy of the newly released (in the U.S., at least) Big Windup! 2. Since I figured it might pick up where Big Windup! left off, I've been rewatching that. I've somehow managed to get through 2/3 of it in only 24 hours, despite having also gone on a "big city" used book shopping trip.

Some things:
  • I had forgotten that Tajima likes to loudly talk about his masturbation habits. The dude has no shame.
  • I had also forgotten that Abe was kind of a jerk at the beginning of the series. I'm glad that Coach Momoe put a stop to his "use Mihashi like a puppet" mindset, although one thing that Yuri on Ice got me to thinking about was the healthiness of Abe and Mihashi's relationship. Is it okay that, even 17 episodes in, Mihashi is still convinced the only reason he's doing well as a pitcher is because he has Abe giving him signs? And Abe telling Mihashi not to worry, that he'd make sure never to get sick or injured so that he could catch for him the whole three years, had me fretting a little. I don't recall anything happening to Abe in Big Windup, but I wonder if Big Windup 2 will shake things up a bit and force Mihashi to have to work with another catcher, even if only for a little bit.
  • Yuri on Ice is a series about men's figure skating, and it still manages to have a larger and more varied female cast than this series. So far we have the mothers, Coach Momoe, the cute team manager whose name I can never remember, and Ruri, Mihashi's cousin. The mothers are all varying degrees of excited and motherly. Ruri only just appeared on the scene. The team manager kind of depresses me - she apparently became the team manager because she used to really love softball, but the series never even shows her getting involved in the team's mental training exercises. By comparison, Mihashi's one friend, who became head of the team's cheering squad, was immediately asked to join the team's meditation practice. Then there's Coach Momoe. She seems awesome, but I have all kinds of questions about her that I doubt the series will ever answer. For example, if she's pouring all her part-time job money into the team, how does she pay her own bills? What inspired her decision to start Nishiura's baseball team? Will we ever see flashbacks to her days playing baseball? 
  • I can't remember how any of the games turned out! The game with Tosei is freaking me out. Does Nishiura win? I can't remember! So much tension.
  • I still love it when the catchers try to analyze their pitchers' emotional states and mentally debate how to handle them.
  • I had thought that Yuri's anxiety and Viktor trying to deal with it was something new to me in anime, but actually it's here in Big Windup too. Mihashi is painfully anxious and prone to self-doubt. Unfortunately, like I noted earlier, his way of dealing with it maybe isn't healthy - Abe becomes his security blanket. Crossing my fingers that there's a sign, later in the series, that he can still function without Abe, the way Yuri showed that he could function without Viktor.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

REVIEW: He's Just Not That Into You (live action movie)

He's Just Not That Into You is a romantic comedy based on a self-help book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo.

Review:

This movie is entirely about the character relationships, and I kind of feel like it would best be described with a diagram. Lacking that, I’ll try a list.
  • Gigi: A single woman who is desperately waiting for her latest date to call her back, not because she particularly likes him, but rather because she wants to not be single.
  • Alex: A bar owner who takes pity on Gigi and gives her advice that mostly boils down to “that guy isn’t interested, so stop throwing yourself at him.”
  • Janine: Gigi’s coworker and friend. She’s married to Ben.
  • Ben: Years ago, Janine gave him an ultimatum: either he needed to marry her or she’d leave. So he married her. He begins to falter after he meets Anna, a flirtatious singer.
  • Anna: Anna’s friend Mary tells her a story about a friend of her sister’s (or something) who met a guy who fell in love with her even though he was already married. The guy left his wife and he lived happily ever after with this new woman. So Anna takes a chance and calls up Ben, even though he already told her that he’s married and doesn’t want to cheat on his wife.
  • Conor: Anna’s sorta-boyfriend. “Sorta,” because he sees the two of them as a couple while she sees him as more of a platonic friend she once had sex with. Conor is the guy Gigi went on a date with and who she’d hoped would call (he never had any plans to call).
  • Mary: Anna’s friend. She only ever seems to connect with guys online, and then they either refuse to actually talk to her or meet with her in person, or they turn out to be players.
  • Beth: Gigi and Janine’s coworker. She’s been with her boyfriend Neil for 7 years. Although they’re living together, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Neil has no plans to ever propose, and Beth has had enough.
  • Neil: Beth’s boyfriend and Ben’s friend.

Monday, December 26, 2016

REVIEW: Kamisama Kiss: The Complete Series (anime TV series)

Kamisama Kiss is a supernatural romance series. Despite what this boxed set says, it's actually only the complete first season, not the complete series. It contains 13 episodes plus several extras.

Review:

Nanami is an ordinary 17-year-old girl whose life is turned upside down after her horrible parents abandon her and she’s kicked out of her home because of her dad’s gambling debts. While trying to figure out where to go from there, she helps out a random guy who was chased up a tree by a dog. That guy turns out to be Mikage, a land god who abandoned his shrine 20 years ago. He gifts Nanami with both the powers of a land god and his shrine. Later, Nanami also acquires his former familiar, Tomoe, sealing their new contract with a kiss.

At the beginning of the series, Nanami listens to a few prayers and engages in some of the supernatural matchmaking that is her duty as the new god of the Mikage Shrine. However, most of the series is devoted to her various encounters with other supernatural beings (several of whom are hot guys who develop an interest in her) and her growing love for Tomoe. Unfortunately for Nanami, Tomoe is dead set against romance between yokai and humans.

REVIEW: Aron's Absurd Armada (manhwa, vol. 2) by MiSun Kim, translated by Jackie Oh

Aron's Absurd Armada is a humorous Korean manhwa.

Review:

In some ways, this was better than the first volume. MiSun Kim cut way back on the gay and transgender jokes and instead focused on things like Aron’s stupidity, Ronnie’s love for good-looking men (not just Robin this time around), Vincent’s terrible cooking skills, and Robin’s love of money. Luther Nelson was still deeply and incestuously in love with his niece, Dorothy Nelson, but readers who skipped the first volume or read it a while back could easily forget about the incestuous aspect since there were no reminders of it in the text.

In a not-terribly-successful effort to keep the jokes from becoming too stale, Kim introduced a couple new characters: the Phantom Thief, a master thief who joined the crew in order to escape being forced to steal from the rich and give to the poor, and Wendy the Witch, a sickly woman who created medicines that were simultaneously poisons and antidotes that were also poisons.

REVIEW: Arisa (manga, vol. 1) by Natsumi Ando, translated by Andria Cheng

Arisa is a mystery series licensed by Kodansha Comics.

This review technically includes spoilers, since the class's secret isn't revealed until the second half of the volume.

Review:

Tsubasa and her twin sister Arisa have been separated for three years, ever since their parents got divorced. They’ve managed to keep in touch via letters, but Tsubasa is still understandably excited about getting to secretly visit her sister soon. Tsubasa, whose habit of getting into fights has earned her the nickname “the Demon Princess of Higashi Junior High,” absolutely idolizes her seemingly perfect and popular sister.

During the visit, Arisa convinces Tsubasa to pretend be her for a day. The experience is just as wonderful as Tsubasa expected it to be, so it’s a complete shock when Arisa tries to kill herself. Her tipping point appears to have been a note she was given by someone at school: “Arisa Sonoda is a traitor.” What does it mean, and what secrets have Arisa and her classmates been hiding? Tsubasa decides to continue pretending to be Arisa while Arisa is in a coma, in order to solve the mystery and protect her sister.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

REVIEW: The Earth Kingdom Chronicles #2: The Tale of Azula (book) by Michael Teitelbaum, based on original screenplays written for Avatar: The Last Airbender, illustrated by Patrick Spaziante

The Tale of Azula is a children's novelization of the second season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, from Azula's perspective.

Review:

It’s been about 5 years since I last saw Season 2 of Avatar: The Last Airbender, so I had to check Wikipedia for reminders and, holy crap, this 89-page book covers the entire season. It’s ridiculous.

The way events were crammed in, it felt 1) like barely any time had passed, even though it was obvious that couldn’t be the case, and 2) like Azula had the attention span of a goldfish. At the start of the book, she was after Zuko and Iroh. Then she spotted Aang and decided it’d be great if she could catch him and Zuko and Iroh. Her father would be so proud, and he’d totally make her his heir! By page 70, she decided that it’d be even better if she acquired the whole Earth Kingdom.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

REVIEW: Yuri!!! on Ice, Season 1 (anime TV series)

Yuri!!! on Ice is a sports anime focused on men's figure skating. At the moment, it's one season (12 episodes) long, although I've heard that there may be a second season.

This review contains spoilers. I tried not to talk too much about how the skating worked out, but there were things I wanted to say about the character relationships that meant I had to go into spoiler territory. Reminder: I've begun posting my TV series and movie reviews on LibraryThing, where I'm able to use spoiler tags.

Review:

I know I said I was probably going to wait a while before writing my review for this series, give myself more time to process, etc. But I think I’m just going to get it out there. I may write another one after it comes out on DVD.

Yuri on Ice is a sports anime starring Katsuki Yuri, a Japanese figure skater who is trying to recover after completely flubbing the Grand Prix Final. In order to get his love of figure skating back, he imitates the latest performance of Victor Nikiforov (spelled “Victor” in Crunchyroll and “Viktor” by a lot of fans). A recording of his performance is uploaded to the internet, sparking a lot of talk in the skating world, and Victor himself inexplicably arrives and announces he’s taking a break from skating in order to be Yuri’s coach. It’s like a dream come true for Yuri.

The bulk of the series is devoted to the newest Grand Prix Final, but throughout it all are the threads of the characters’ various relationships, including the possibility of romance between Yuri and Victor.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Yuri on Ice - I have now seen the final episode

(This post is somewhat spoiler-y, so if you haven’t seen the final episode of Yuri on Ice and are avoiding spoilers like the plague, you should maybe move on for now.)

I got myself another guest pass for Crunchyroll, and I just finished the last episode. I think I feel good about it? I mean, besides the tears that were streaming down my face during most of the performances.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

More Yuri on Ice

I love this show and hope its final episode won't break my heart. Since the overall series is warm, fuzzy, and lovely, I don't think that's going to happen, but you never know. Crossing my fingers.

I haven't read many of people's analyses of the show, because I haven't seen episode 11 (the most current episode) yet and didn't want to risk coming across too many spoilers. Although I did break down and watch a clip of the scene that made the whole fandom wail in anguish, so I'd know what to brace myself for. Anyway, I've still managed to read a few relatively non-spoilery things. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Courtney Milan writing about Viktor Nikiforov as a depiction of depression - Although episodes 10 and 11 are mentioned, there's nothing here I'd call a spoiler. Yuri's issues with anxiety are pretty clear in the show (although I'm definitely going to hunt down other people's analyses after I've finished the series, because I'm sure others have caught details I've missed and come up with interpretations I haven't thought of), but Viktor's are more subtle and I thought this was a nice take. And now it irks me even more that so many people keep telling Viktor to stop playing at being a coach, and that he couldn't possibly be a good one.

An Interview with Johnny Weir: His Thoughts on "Yuri on Ice" - This one's also pretty spoiler-free, although it does reference episode 10 in a vague way. Okay, so while I enjoy watching figure skating during the Winter Olympics, the extent of my figure skating knowledge prior to watching this show was somewhere in the realm of "zero" and "ooh, pretty." I don't actually know the names of a lot of figure skaters and only heard about Johnny Weir after Yuri on Ice fans started talking about how he was going to watch the show (more on that here: Johnny Weir Is Going to Watch Yuri on Ice, Everyone Is Excited).

After reading this interview, I'm pleased that Yuri on Ice's depiction of the figure skating world is apparently pretty accurate, pleased that someone besides me dislikes Chris (the characters keep saying how sexy he is, but he just makes my skin crawl), and I have to laugh about the banquet. Yeah, I figured that banquet had very little connection to reality. In real life someone probably would have called security. This bit in the interview was great: "The drunken dance offs happen in the hotel rooms once all the old people go to bed."

And that's it for now.

Dark days

I've only mentioned the election in passing, first because this blog is almost entirely a place for me to post reviews and second because just thinking about the final results makes me feel panicky, angry, and sick. I feel like the US failed a very basic decency test.

I've been trying to figure out what to do from here on out. I made room in my budget for a few monthly donations (the ACLU is one), and I'm working on my phone anxiety for phone calls to my reps. It feels like nothing I could possibly do would be enough, but I'm trying not to let that weigh me down to the point where I don't do anything. I wish I didn't feel like I was surrounded by potential landmines – I know that there are likely a lot of people in my daily life who don't share my horror and who maybe even think that our new president will do great things.

And that's basically it. I don't really know what else to say. The next post will be something Yuri on Ice related, because I'm clinging to that show like it's an emotional lifesaver.

Monday, December 19, 2016

REVIEW: Mars Rover Curiosity: An Inside Account from Curiosity's Chief Engineer (nonfiction audiobook) by Rob Manning and William L. Simon, narrated by Bronson Pinchot

I haven't been very good about writing reviews in a timely manner for the past few weeks (months?). This is one of those that I should have reviewed soon after I finished it, and I just...didn't. At least I'm finally getting around to it, I guess.

Anyway, I checked this out via my library's Overdrive service. I have to admit that I didn't really know much about Curiosity before listening to this. I knew that it existed, I knew a few fun things related to it (pictures, it singing itself Happy Birthday, etc.), and I knew that it continues to function well past its 2-year mission. Recent(ish) news about things like the Juno mission and the Philae lander, plus my enjoyment of Andy Weir's The Martian, led to me wanting to read space-related nonfiction, and this book looked like a good one.

Now, let's see if I can remember what topics were covered. The book didn't actually start with Curiosity, but rather with an earlier project Manning worked on, the Sojourner Rover. This allowed him to compare and contrast the thought processes that went into Sojourner with the ones that went into Curiosity, a much larger and heavier rover with a different set of scientific instruments. I found it all fascinating, and Manning did a great job of describing the problems and most of the solutions in a way I was able to understand.

I really liked this book when it was covering the problems that needed to be solved to get a rover safely to Mars and make sure it could function in extreme cold. I also liked a lot of the stuff on Curiosity's (and its instruments') capabilities, as well as the team management stuff. However, I winced a bit during Manning's repeated mentions of budget issues. Even the “cheaper, faster” mission budgets seemed enormous to me.

I tend to be really bad about starting to read nonfiction books and then never finishing them, so it's usually audio or nothing for me. However, audio nonfiction doesn't always work well. Mars Rover Curiosity was doing fine, up until the list of all of Curiosity's scientific instruments. It made for very dry listening, and I imagine I'd have skimmed that part if I had been reading a paper version of the book instead. The narration itself was okay – not terribly exciting, but Bronson Pinchot's voice fit the text well enough that, since I didn't know what Manning sounded like, it was easy to forget that it wasn't Manning himself narrating the book.

All in all, this was an interesting look at the work, planning, testing, and, at times, politics that went into Curiosity.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

REVIEW: Skip Beat! (manga, vols. 35-36) by Yoshiki Nakamura, translated by Tomo Kimura

Sadly, there weren't enough volumes of Skip Beat! published in the past year for me to be able to go on a giant binge during my vacation. It's too bad, because this series is consistently enjoyable. It's rare for me to still love a series that's been running for so many volumes, but Nakamura somehow manages to keep the characters and story from stagnating.

That said, these two volumes were pretty weak. I still enjoyed getting to see the characters again, but Ren disappointed me in volume 35, and volume 36 was enjoyable more for what it seemed to be setting up than anything else.

This is the last of my post-vacation reviews. As usual with these, there are lots and lots of spoilers. Read on at your own risk.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Currently watching: Yuri on Ice

I don't normally post about shows before I've finished seeing the entire thing, but in this case I have all kinds of feelings and they need an outlet. So, here we go!

Yuri on Ice is a sports anime about men's figure skating, with a side of something that might be romance (my current theory: Yuri is ace, or possibly demi - thankfully Viktor seems to be fine with that). It's wonderful. The first two or three episodes have some rough points (I hated how Yuri's gut kept getting used purely for humor), but it just keeps getting better and better from there.

I almost broke down and got a Crunchyroll subscription so I could watch episode 10 and then binge the whole series up to that point, but then I found out that neither Crunchyroll nor Funimation (the other site currently legally streaming the show) have Samsung apps anymore, so I'd still have to watch it on my computer rather than on my TV. But hey, 48-hour Crunchyroll guest memberships are a thing, and I managed to get one.

Episode 10 is the best. I think my poor heart came close to exploding. My favorite moments: the "lucky charm," Phichit's instantly joyous reaction, and the entire ending credits (but particularly Viktor's reaction at the very end).

If this series doesn't end happily, I'm going to be a wreck. At the moment though, it's a lovely bright spot at the end of this horrible year, and I'm absolutely planning on getting the DVDs once they become available. My favorite episodes so far: 6, 7, 9 (go, Sara!*), and 10 (♥).

ETA: This article (which has huge spoilers for episode 10, so watch out) does a much better job than I could of laying out some of the main things that make episode 10 so great. I hadn't thought much yet about episode 10's implications for a series rewatch, but now I'm even happier.


* - Crunchyroll's subtitles call Viktor "Victor" and Sara "Sala," but I have a feeling that "Viktor" and "Sara" would be more appropriate spellings.

REVIEW: Aron's Absurd Armada (manhwa, vol. 1) by MiSun Kim, translated by Jackie Oh

Aron's Absurd Armada is a humorous Korean manhwa.

Review:

Aron is a nobleman who decided (with encouragement from his mother) to go off and become a pirate. He was bored and thought it might be fun. Since he's his family's heir, he's accompanied by a bodyguard named Robin. Robin only cares about money and is kind of pissed that this job isn't as cushy and simple as it originally sounded like it would be.

Along the way they're joined by several new crew members: Ronnie, a girl who instantly falls in love with Robin because he's good-looking, and who everyone on the ship thinks is really a gay guy; Anton and Gilbert, two ordinary pirates who join Anton in order to avoid being killed by Robin; Mercedes, who specializes in magical makeovers and who is either a transwoman or a cross-dresser (I'm not sure the author thought about it very deeply, but I suspect the answer is “cross-dresser”); and Vincent, a man who looks like a dangerous pirate but who is actually an incredibly terrible chef.

Other characters occasionally join the story: the King, who is gentle, generous, and may have psychic powers; Aron's incredibly mismatched parents; Luther Nelson, Aron's childhood friend and occasional enemy; Admiral Nelson, Luther's father and Aron's mother's enemy; and Dorothy Nelson, Luther's niece and also the one he secretly loves. Yeah, you read that right – Luther's brother is only his half-brother, and also old enough that Luther and Dorothy are about the same age, which is how Luther justifies his incestuous feelings for her.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

REVIEW: Space Battle Lunchtime, Volume One: Lights, Camera Snacktion! (graphic novel, vol. 1) by Natalie Riess

Space Battle Lunchtime is a sci-fi cooking/baking graphic novel.

Review:

The little cafe Peony works at gets a strange new customer, a woman who looks a bit like a frog. The woman, Zonda, suddenly has to get a new contestant for her cooking show, and Peony seems like the best available choice on such short notice. Peony agrees to go with her, not realizing that Zonda is really an alien and that the cooking show, Space Battle Lunchtime, literally has viewers all over the galaxy.

Contestants on SBL are given mystery ingredients that they have to turn into foods (savory or sweet) the judges will like. Peony is the first human who's ever been on the show, the ingredients and kitchen tools are completely unfamiliar to her, and she doesn't even know how to use her kitchen appliances. Still, she'll try her best (and Zonda will get fired if she doesn't). Unfortunately, her best might not be good enough as one of her fellow contestants tries to sabotage her and the others.

Friday, December 9, 2016

REVIEW: Fairy Ponies: Unicorn Prince (book) by Zanna Davidson

Fairy Ponies: Unicorn Prince is children's fantasy.

Review:

Holly is a young girl who is visiting her great-aunt during summer vacation. At some point earlier in the series, I'm guessing she must have gone exploring or something and figured out how to visit the magical world of Pony Island. In this book, she goes to Pony Island to meet Puck, her fairy pony friend. They're having a picnic together when they hear someone crying for help. It turns out it's a unicorn named Willow who's being attacked by several bad fairy ponies. Shadow, the ringleader, is preparing to do a spell that will give him unicorn powers and allow him to take over Pony Island. He stole the first few ingredients from Willow, and now he plans to trick the Unicorn Prince so that he can get the final ingredient.

I was told it wasn't necessary to read these books in any particular order. A bit of searching tells me that this is probably Book 5 in the Fairy Ponies series, although the only thing I felt I was missing out on was how Holly found Pony Island in the first place.

Booklikes issues

I don't know that many people who read this blog also followed me via Booklikes, but I figured I'd talk about it a bit here just in case. Booklikes has been having serious problems for the past year or so. If you recall, I wrote a post back in May about it possibly having been sold. This was later denied by a Booklikes employee, although no one from Booklikes ever contacted The Hundert to ask them to issue a correction about the bit that said one of the site's founders had sold it, so who knows what's really going on. What it comes down to is that the site has been working like crap, or not at all, for months. Also, neither I nor any of the other users I've spoken to have had any contact with a Booklikes employee since sometime in July 2016 - no one responds to emails, Facebook posts, Twitter comments, posts in Booklikes discussion groups, or anything else.

The site was down for me a day or two ago, and it's down for me again today. I had hoped to continue using it until at least the end of the year, so that I could finish up my yearly reading challenge, but it's looking like that might not be possible.

I'm still considering what to do. I've removed the Booklikes widget from this blog because the site is down so often now that it's basically useless. I have no plans to close my Booklikes account or delete my Booklikes blog (if I even could, what with the site being down), but I might not be updating it anymore. It's sad, because in the past few years I've been posting there more than here. I loved the community, chatted with a lot of great people, discovered lots of new books, and got hooked on loose-leaf tea.

I think I'll probably start posting on Goodreads again. I still have issues with the mindset of those in charge of the site, and I hate that at least one of the people I got to know via Booklikes is banned from GR and doesn't even have the option of going back, but it's the only book site I can think of with even halfway decent social features, and it's the best way I know of to keep in touch with the majority of the folks I got to know via Booklikes.

That said, I'm probably going to use GR differently than I used to. Back when I first got started with it, it was my personal reading catalog as well as a place to mirror my reviews. Now, however, LibraryThing has taken over that role, and I think it does a better job than GR. No one but me (with very rare exceptions) can change my data, my cover image choices, etc., and I actually get to edit my own data instead of having to make do with something that isn't quite correct. Instead of being my primary catalog, GR is just going to be a place where I can interact with other readers. That means it doesn't matter if my data isn't quite right or if I haven't posted everything I've reviewed over there. I doubt I'll be importing all the reviews I've written in the past three or so years, for example.

So, that's basically it. Even if Booklikes magically comes back online by tomorrow, I'm to the point where I don't trust that it will still be there the day after that.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

REVIEW: Attack on Titan: The Movie, Part 1 (live action movie)

Attack on Titan: The Movie is a live action adaptation of a post-apocalyptic manga series.

This review includes spoilers.

Review:

If you're on the fence about whether to watch this or not, you can add me to the “not” column. This movie is terrible. I'm no longer even the slightest bit tempted to get Part 2.

I haven't really been able to get into the original Attack on Titan manga, but the franchise as a whole interests me and I loved the anime. One thing fans of this series need to know is that this movie isn't the same as the manga or the show. Humanity is still living inside three concentric walls, a huge titan still knocks a hole into the outer wall, lots of people get eaten, and the whole storyline about plugging the hole in the wall still exists. However, many important details have been changed or completely dropped from the story.

Eren, Mikasa, and Armin are still friends at the start of the movie. Armin enjoys inventing things, even though advanced technologies are forbidden (never mind that several groups of people travel in armored cars later in the movie). Eren and Mikasa appear to like each other, but Eren is too busy dreaming about visiting the world outside the walls and being angry that humanity is trapped to do much more than show off and give Mikasa his scarf. Not one bit of Mikasa's original backstory is evident, and Eren's parents apparently died a while back.

Monday, December 5, 2016

REVIEW: A Silent Voice (manga, vols. 3-7) by Yoshitoki Oima, translated by Steven LeCroy

I'm so torn on this series. I use star ratings on other sites, and every single volume left me questioning which rating I should go with.

I feel like this series would spark some great conversations, but parts of it are incredibly unpleasant to read. And I understand that parts are supposed to be unpleasant to read, but it just got to be so much. I also feel like most normal people would have just gone their separate ways and made new friends rather than try to untangle the horrifically snarled knots that these characters kept picking at. The final volume was pretty good, but there was so much awfulness to get through before that. Not surprising, I guess, considering that this series deals with both bullying and suicidal thoughts, but somehow I thought that the first volume would be the worst of it. It wasn't.

This post contains major spoilers.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

REVIEW: Natsume's Book of Friends (manga, vols. 9-10) by Yuki Midorikawa, translated by Lillian Olsen

This is one of those series I'd have read more of, if my vacation had been a few days longer. I had a pretty large stack of them. I started reading them in an effort to deal with my post-election funk, and the overall gentleness of the series brought me to tears.

I wish I knew how many more volumes I'd have to read it make it past the point at which the anime stopped. Or at least the point at which Season 4 stopped – I recently learned that there's a Season 5 now. I'd love to see some completely new-to-me moments in this series, although I should add that seeing the anime first has in no way lessened my enjoyment of the manga.

Warning: this post includes spoilers.

REVIEW: Rurouni Kenshin, Part 1: Origins (live action movie)

Rurouni Kenshin, Part 1: Origins is a live action adaptation of the Rurouni Kenshin manga. Although it says "Part 1," rest assured, it doesn't end in a cliffhanger.

Review:

I'll start this review off by answering a question: Do I plan on buying and watching Part 2? The answer is “yes.”

Okay, now for the details. As far as my Rurouni Kenshin background goes, I've read the entire manga, although long enough ago that I've forgotten a lot, I've seen the first season of the original TV series and most of the second season, and I've read one related light novel. I'm definitely a fan of this franchise, but I had concerns about how well it might work as a live action movie. Happily, I thought it worked out pretty well.

The characters and general story were all faithful to the original. Of them all, I most enjoyed Kenshin. Other than a few moments during the last big battle with Jin'e, I felt that Takeru Satoh did a wonderful job portraying him. The box art image of Emi Takei as Kaoru worried me because she was only recognizable as the character by a process of elimination (I knew the woman in the corner was definitely Megumi). However, in the movie itself she was great and really brought the character to life, although I had forgotten how ridiculously and sometimes painfully naive Kaoru could be. Seriously, fighting Jin'e with a wooden sword? Yu Aoi as Megumi, Yosuke Eguchi as Saito, and Munetaka Aoki as Sanosuke were also pretty good, although they didn't fit my mental images of the original characters as well.
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