I'm still trying to rearrange my thoughts about this book. What I can tell you is that I fell, head first, into this world. It was an amazing, thrilliI'm still trying to rearrange my thoughts about this book. What I can tell you is that I fell, head first, into this world. It was an amazing, thrilling ride only because it felt so amazingly real to me. I felt like I knew Nao and Ruth so intimately; they were my friends and I was their confidante. It was as if I trekked to that mountainous temple and met with old Jiko and I could hear the ticking of Haruki #1's watch faintly in the background reminding me that I am here, now, in this moment. Eternally.
I cannot give this book an objective review; I just liked it so much that it would be too hard to do. This is not a fast-paced roller coaster ride of a book but it is something that slowly, inexplicably pulls and tears at your heartstrings so that you feel as if you are a part of the family and Nao is a cousin of yours, or perhaps a friend at your school in Sunnyvale.
It made me so sad to think of Nao who grew up with an American mindset in those formative years to suddenly be dropped into modern day Japan with all that horrible ijime and suicide as a common and almost acceptable way out. I cannot know what she went through but I could feel that bone-deep loneliness as a gaijin teacher in Japan where I felt so disconnected from the rest of the world, from everything. I grew up in California, too. Nao is probably about my age, give or take a year. My first visit to Japan I was 17 for a 6 week stay with a host family in rural Kiryuu in the Gunma Prefecture. I arrived back in California to start my first semester of college right before 9/11. It just feels like a weird sort of synchronicity that really spoke to me.
As I said, I can't be objective here. All I can be is myself. And all I can say is that I really enjoyed this book. It was one of the few books that I've loved but didn't slam through in a day or two or five. This was a couple week journey because I had to take a break or two, cleanse myself off a bit, before delving right back in. I'm not sure if I will ever re-read this book. I feel it might lose something now that I know how it ends and nothing is a surprise anymore but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable or feel any less real to me.
I suppose this is less of a review and more of a thank you. I do not know if you are even out there reading this though I can wonder about you but the not-knowing keeps all of these possibilities open and I like that.
They don't know that we are the media. They don't know that we start the mania.
- Amanda Palmer, Map of Tasmania
I thought this was a good insight into
They don't know that we are the media. They don't know that we start the mania.
- Amanda Palmer, Map of Tasmania
I thought this was a good insight into what happened/is happening in Greece. Laurie Penny has a way for words that keeps us, the reader, interested and engaged and Molly Crabapple's artwork is a wonderful addition.
My main problem had nothing to do with the content and everything to do with the text size. I bought and read this on Kindle Cloud through the internet rather than through my actual Kindle in the hopes that the images would be of much better quality. However, I had to oscillate between huge, regular, and mini-note sized text. Really hard to read!!
Otherwise than that I have nothing to complain about.
Sherwood Smith is a chameleon! She so easily adapts to all manner of stories and genres. Danse de la Folie is no different. It is a typical Regency-stSherwood Smith is a chameleon! She so easily adapts to all manner of stories and genres. Danse de la Folie is no different. It is a typical Regency-style romance with four main players: Clarissa, Kitty, Carlisle, and Philip. True to form there are hijinks and misunderstandings and marriage swapping along with a couple of spoiled girls doing their best to get their own way. But also true are the proprieties of the time, which is nice. No first names and heaving bosoms (which always drove me nuts) so I was quite pleased knowing that this would not be the case when I bought it.
I won't delve into the plot but I can say that like all of Ms. Smith's books it is well written and I found myself engaged the entire way through.
My only regret is that I bought it for my Kindle through Amazon.com and not through Book View Cafe as I assume more money would get to Ms. Smith that way. Ah well. Next time!
Sorry, for some reason this story doesn't resonate with me like Carlos Ruiz Zafon's more mature books. The plot goes rather quickly and it seems clearSorry, for some reason this story doesn't resonate with me like Carlos Ruiz Zafon's more mature books. The plot goes rather quickly and it seems clear that this is more of a young adult book. It looks like it could potentially be a very good read but I just found myself nodding off and uninterested. I think I'm just not the right reader for this story. Pass....more
The thing about anthologies is that you (or I) will not love – or even like – everything within its pages so I never feel too bad about flipping pagesThe thing about anthologies is that you (or I) will not love – or even like – everything within its pages so I never feel too bad about flipping pages to the next short story. This is definitely the case here and there were definitely stories that were glossed over. Every story has an audience just not always with me. With that said, on to the long review:
“Some Desperado” – Joe Abercrombie
A nitty-gritty Western story as told by a female bank robber being chased by her former comrades. I admit that I’ve never read anything by Joe Abercrombie though I’ve heard the name before but this story solidifies my belief that I need to find a book of his to start on. It was well written and left me wanting to know more. I wanted to keep reading and there’s no higher compliment than that.
“My Heart is Either Broken” – Megan Abbott
An uncomfortable narrative about a missing toddler and the aftermath it wreaked on her parents. It was very well written but I’m not personally a fan of stories that revolve around young children so well-written or not I ended up skipping out on finishing the story. Pass.
“Nora’s Song” – Cecelia Holland
We glimpse a brief moment of Nora of Aquitaine, Eleanor’s daughter, as a young girl who begins to learn some of life’s hard lessons that life is not always fair or just. A good, solid story but I’m not sure one that would make me deviate to strict historical fiction.
“The Hands that are Not There” – Melinda Snodgrass
I was initially wary of beginning this story because I am not a huge fan of sci-fi stories and this definitely had elements of it. However, the sci-fi aspects of this slice-of-space-opera-life were toned considerably down and the “humanity” was in the forefront of the plot. We are treated to problems with the aristocracy when one is not aristocratic – at least in the present moment – but flashback scenes follow a different character with the reverse problem. He is rather enamored of a dancing girl from a high-end strip club and not human enough at that. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this from beginning to end. Definitely recommended.
“Bombshells” – Jim Butcher
(SPOLIER ALERT: if you have not read up to Dresden Files’ “Changes”, which I haven’t, you might not want to read this story due to huge spoilers. But too late for me and now you have been warned in advance)
Harry Dresden’s protégé finds herself in a sticky situation without Harry around and has to manage it using her own magic and brains. All in all I found it to be a pretty solid urban paranormal story but ultimately a forgettable one. Having only read the first two Dresden novels before giving up I didn’t have the fan perspective that is needed when reading this and there was barely enough knowledge of the side characters for me to sort out. It also felt a bit off reading Molly’s POV because I could sort of tell that it wasn’t written by a female author. I rolled my eyes at The Rack comments and what girl calls another girl “smoking hot”? I’ve only ever heard that said by guys. But then again I can only pull from my own POV so it might resonate a bit better with others out there. Meh, not bad but nothing to write home about.
“Raisa Stepanova” – Carrie Vaughn
A bittersweet story starring a WWII-era woman fighter pilot in Russia who wants desperately to make five kills so she can become an ace pilot or die trying. But she must never, ever go missing in action because MIA means becoming a traitor to her country. I’ve got to admit that I was expecting some sort of faint whiff of magic to flow up into the plot somewhere but, nope, not so much. It was still a great read and if this were a novel and not just a short story I think I’d still be interested in picking it up. I want to know how Raisa became a pilot!
“Wrestling Jesus” – Joe R. Lansdale
Language warning for anyone who might need it.
Opening up to a gawky high school kid getting beaten up by some older bullies and saved by a very spry old boxing champ we follow the kid along as he trains to beat his bullies and the old man continues his training for a once-every-five-year boxing match to win back his woman who left when he lost a match. I found it to be a well-written, if crude, story that flowed pretty well. It wasn’t particularly my cup of tea but I don’t fault anyone for liking the style.
“Neighbors” – Megan Lindholm
Sarah is getting on in age, living alone in her run-down house with a dog to keep her company and two grown children worried about her becoming senile – like the woman across the way, Linda, who just up and disappeared one day. I really quite enjoyed this story and I loved the hint of magic that created the right mood. Also, I did not know this was the same person as Robin Hobb, whose name I do know. Cool. Anyway, worth the read, I think.
“I Know How to Pick ‘Em” – Lawrence Block
A messed up story on so many levels that I won’t go into but written in such a way that it was so very believable. I can’t say that I particularly enjoyed it but I could believe it was true which is a compliment of sorts.
“Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell” – Brandon Sanderson
A dark forest full of shades and a wayside tavern is where we set our tale. The White Fox roams these woods hunting heads for bounty without spilling a drop of blood because even one drop could set the shades to murderous intent. I admit I was excited to get to this story because I am definitely a fan of Brandon Sanderson. His Mistborn series are one of my favorites. Alas, while I liked this story and it filled the role of a short story rather well it was more of a good, solid read than an amazing one. Still worth the time if you had it and I tend to for Brandon Sanderson.
“A Queen in Exile” – Sharon Kay Penman
Historical fiction taking place in twelfth century Sicily, following Constance and her German husband, Heinrich. It read like an interesting excerpt from a text book with lots of places fast forwarded, sometimes years, to make the story move. Not interesting enough for me to want to read more. Not bad at all, just not for me.
“The Girl in the Mirror” – Lev Grossman
You know, I’ve got to admit that I thought I wouldn’t like this story. I started on Lev Grossman’s “The Magician” and lost interest early on. But this story I actually quite liked. You find yourself in a variant of the Hogwarts School of Witches and Wizardy persuasion in a room full of high school-aged girls late at night thinking of ways to prank a younger classman who wasn’t pouring the right amount of wine and they wanted to know what he was doing with the rest of it. A fun little story about the back rooms one can find when one is looking for mischief. Recommended!
“Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” – Nancy Kress
An unknown future sometime after 2016, an Infertility Plague that rendered 99% of all women infertile, and bands of wandering young people trying to stay alive is where we set our story. They find themselves inside a theater where a “teevee” is found giving a glimpse of what ballet was in the olden days. One boy is enchanted and wants desperately to learn how to do ballet with one of the pack, a girl who is not yet a woman, but they risk their lives trying to do just that. I found this to be solidly written but I’m just not a fan of post-apocalyptic stories. All I could think of was “A Wind Named Amnesia”, an old anime I watched back in the late 90’s that had a similar feeling.
“City Lazarus” – Diana Rowland
A gritty noir story, this time set in New Orleans, about a powerful rich man, a crooked cop, and a stripper who got between them. The story wasn’t completely fleshed out and I’m not sure what exactly happened to New Orleans after Katrina that made it into such a crooked, unhappy city. It wasn’t a bad story by any means but just not my particular flavor of tea. If you like noir then you might like this.
"Virgins" – Diana Gabaldon
I admit, I was really looking forward to something new from Diana Gabaldon – and with the protagonist as Jamie Frasier was a very happy surprise! We find young Jamie in France, having been dropped off by Murtagh to Ian’s side, after a savage lashing wherein Jamie’s father dies during said lashing by yon Captain Randall. They get into all sorts of adventures in Paris and while there is a main female lead who is strong in her own right I found the story somewhat lacking in dangerous women. I suppose that was because the main focus was on Jaime and Ian, and the woman was somewhat more of a secondary character. Still, I can’t complain because Outlander was such a pivotal book for me back in high school and I remain extremely fond of the first couple books in the series. Later on less so which is why I really appreciate a young Jaime story before he meets Claire. Highly recommended!
“Hell Hath No Fury” – Sherrilyn Kenyon
I don't know much about Sherrilyn Kenyon for all that she has written a lot of books. What I got out of this story is that it read somewhat simplistically, like it was written for a younger teen or pre-teen audience. We follow a couple of teenagers into a haunted forest as they come face-to-face with a vengeful ghost. Not one of my favorite stories, it didn't feel real to me and I wasn't drawn in at all. I left the last page feeling very 'meh' about the whole thing. Pass.
"Pronouncing Doom" - S.M. Sterling
I would suspect that this story would appeal to the more literary of the post-apocalyptic dystopian readers out there but I found myself yawning early on. Not for me. Pass.
“Name the Beast” – Samuel Sykes
An interesting story that I am at odds trying to think of how to describe. I suppose in the most basic terms nature versus civilization as seen from the eyes of those that live in each., but predominantly from the people of the forest. Anyway, it took me a while to warm up to this story but I did eventually and while I liked it well enough I don’t think I could manage an entire book’s worth of this type of story.
“Caretakers” – Pat Cadigan
A sister story with a noticeable gap in age and an elderly mother lapsing deeper into Alzheimer’s while at a senior home. What I found good about the story was how well it flowed and how realistic it felt. What I was less keen on was that I found it to be a bit boring in the end.
“Lies My Mother Told Me” – Caroline Spector
Ugh, a zombie story. I’m only a couple of pages in and already I’m not interested. Sorry, not for me. Pass.
“The Princess and the Queen, or the Blacks and the Greens” – George R.R. Martin
Like Game of Thrones? Like dragons? Well, you’re in for a good ol’ joyride, then. A story of the Targaryen struggle for the Iron Throne in the year 129 AC that divided the House in half. However, it was a bit of a dry tale that told of what was said and done but kept the reader at bay always. Honestly, I found it kind of boring, much as I like Danerys of Targaryen. I’ve read the first couple of books and lost interest in them, too, so I guess George R.R. Martin is just not quite to my liking. Alas.
And thus we come to the end of this ridiculously long review. Some stories I found quite enthralling and others far less so, like any anthology. All in all a pretty good read but worth skipping the stories that don't speak to you. ...more
Yakuza Moon was a simple telling of Shoko's life with a yakuza for a father and the hardships that she faced as she tried to maneuver her way throughYakuza Moon was a simple telling of Shoko's life with a yakuza for a father and the hardships that she faced as she tried to maneuver her way through the shaky waters of her dad's financial demise, his leaving of his yakuza group, bullying at school, the disastrous men in her life (many of whom beat her within an inch of her life; there were numerous hospital visits), and her own attempt at suicide. It is a coming of age story for Shoko and her decision to get a traditionally-male full-body yakuza tattoo but interpreting it in a completely different light; one of hope, remembrance, and ultimately empowerment as she got herself out of a vicious and horrifying cycle of abuse.
While I was very interested in the premise of the book (who isn't a little curious about the life of a yakuza family?) the reality of the story fell quite short for me. It was not a very compelling read and while there are attempts to try and lure the reader in when all is said and done and the last page finished I was rather underwhelmed. I don't believe this to be the fault of the translator (Lousie Heal) but perhaps due to the inexperience of Shoko herself as I would believe this to be her first published book. Her writing style was very simple and matter of fact, enough so that I was not drawn into her story like I would have hoped to have been. All in all it was an interesting read but one I felt very distanced from and not one I'd pick up again at a later date to re-read.