Fresh out of the academy, young dragon rider Bran joins his father on a journey to the Orient, chasing after tantalising clues of experiences in his gFresh out of the academy, young dragon rider Bran joins his father on a journey to the Orient, chasing after tantalising clues of experiences in his grandfather's past that he never spoke about. A disaster at sea carries him to shores unknown. On the islands of Yamato, a hidden land unknown to almost all of the West, young shrine apprentice Nagomi sees worrying visions of things to come. Her best friend Sato, who prefers to dress as a boy and carry a word, is a student of Western magic in a world deeply suspicious of anything foreign. When their paths cross, worlds collide with as yet unforeseeable consequences.
Mid-19th century Japan is a setting that fascinates me, so that alone would have been enough to capture my interest. Add to that an alternate world history in which the Roman Empire never collapsed as well as magic and dragons and my picking this book up sooner or later was pretty much guaranteed. This first part of the series feels mostly like an introduction to the world and characters, with things only just beginning to get really interesting at the end. I'm definitely going to pick up the next installment to see where the story goes. The only thing I have to gripe about is the author's decision to rename every single location used in the book for no good reason, which makes the whole thing unnecessarily confusing to read IMO since I was constantly trying to figure out which fantasy location equates to which country/city in the real world and then keep all of those straight in my head. If you're going to keep historical figures with their real names, why not also locations? ...more
Written by one of Japan's most famous historical novelists (of whose works, unfortunately, only very few are available in English translations), thisWritten by one of Japan's most famous historical novelists (of whose works, unfortunately, only very few are available in English translations), this well written biography that reads almost like a novel covers the life and times of Tokugawa Yoshinobu, Japan's last shogun who ruled for no more than a year before relinquishing his power in 1868, returning it to the emperor in what became known as the Meiji Restoration. Having been fascinated by this period for quite some time, I've frequently lamented the dearth of material available in any language I actually speak well enough to read books in (becuase my rudimentary Japanese certainly isn't up to the task). This was an interesting and engaging read offering a detailed but never tedious exploration of the political situation and most important players surrounding these historical events, even though the author does have a bit of a tendency to gloss over some of his subject's more significant faults....more
History tells us that Harada Sanosuke, captain of the 10th unit of the Shinsengumi, died in 1868 of wounds sustained during the Battle of Ueno. And yeHistory tells us that Harada Sanosuke, captain of the 10th unit of the Shinsengumi, died in 1868 of wounds sustained during the Battle of Ueno. And yet, there were rumours of his survival. In 1965 a Japanese newspaper ran a story citing reports that an old Japanese man claiming to be Harada Sanosuke came to the aid of soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army in Manchuria during the first Sino-Japanese War, a story which remains unsubstantiated to this day. Louis Edward Rosas takes this rumour and runs with it, crafting an intriguing tale spanning decades telling the stories of Harada himself and that of one of the men the mysterious stranger claiming his name saved in Manchuria. Now, why am I only giving this book three stars despite the fact that I find the premise intensely fascinating? Because good grief, this thing really needs an editor! Typos, grammatical errors, nonsensical sentence structures and extremely clumsy phrasing abound and distract from the plot to no small degree - I'd have enjoyed this much more without all those small annoyances....more
Now this is what I call a nice surprise: The second Unbreakable Stories collection, this time focussing on Snow and Jude, already out with barely anyNow this is what I call a nice surprise: The second Unbreakable Stories collection, this time focussing on Snow and Jude, already out with barely any warning - not that I'm complaining. The world needs more Snow & Jude love and steamy goodness, and this short story collection certainly delivers a more than generous helping of such. It's quite impossible to pick a favourite story, I loved each and every one. Eagerly anticipating the next book!...more
I enjoyed this second volume more than the first part of the "Restoration" remake of the Kenshin story. More page space, more character background andI enjoyed this second volume more than the first part of the "Restoration" remake of the Kenshin story. More page space, more character background and development... definitely felt more on point than the first part. I was kinda hoping we'd get to see some of the other popular characters like Aoshi and Misao (actually in the story, that is, and not just in a panel or two because why not), or otherwise to see this reboot continue with maybe a new version of the Kyoto arc to follow. But alas, it seems this is all there is. An entertaining read, but doesn't quite live up to the awesomeness of the original....more
Being a huge fan of the original Kenshin series as well as the live action movie trilogy that prompred this two volume manga reboot, I was thrilled toBeing a huge fan of the original Kenshin series as well as the live action movie trilogy that prompred this two volume manga reboot, I was thrilled to see a new addition to the Kenshin universe. "Restoration" is essentially an alternate version of the beginning of the series. For someone like me who is already familiar with the world and characters, this is an entertaining addition to a series I love, although it doesn't reach the charme, humour and character development of the original version. Things happen so fast here that there's not enough time to form the deep bonds between the characters that were always at the heart of the series (well, next to lots of kick ass action). I wouldn't recommend this version as someone's first exposure to the world of Kenshin and friends, but it's certainly fun as an extra....more
Four teenagers with nothing much in common except the fact that they're all in a way outsiders get themselves into a whole lot of trouble when they moFour teenagers with nothing much in common except the fact that they're all in a way outsiders get themselves into a whole lot of trouble when they more or less accidentally steal a car and end up on the run from both the police and a bunch of ruthless criminals.
The premise is fun (if you suspend your disbelief long enough to believe that anyone could be idiotic enough to end up in the situation in the first place) and the plot and revelations keep rolling out at a good pace, but I'm afraid I didn't particularly care for any of the characters. My favourite, in so far as I had one, of the four was Andi, mostly because I found her slightly less annoying than the rest. The romance bit was completely unnecessary and felt forced, like the author just couldn't imagine the book possibly working without a bit of teenage romance nonsense thrown in with all the crazy. Still a fun read, though....more
What's the best thing that could possibly happen right before Christmas? A brandnew Executive Office Christmas novella! Set during the time of Ethan'sWhat's the best thing that could possibly happen right before Christmas? A brandnew Executive Office Christmas novella! Set during the time of Ethan's "exile" in Iowa, it gives a closer look at the terrible toll the long distance combined with the unabating media frenzy has on Jack and Ethan's relationship during this time - and how it continues to grow stronger despite all those obstacles. Absolutely not to be missed by anyone who's enjoyed the two novels so far....more
The third and (so far) final of these little Pottermore collections is all about Hogwarts - the school's founding, the Hogwarts express, the Sorting HThe third and (so far) final of these little Pottermore collections is all about Hogwarts - the school's founding, the Hogwarts express, the Sorting Hat and all manner of other fascinating background trivia and fun facts any fan deserving of the title simply has to know. I enjoyed all three of these collections immensely and would love to see more of them available in future - while I do spend quite some time browsing through the wealth of canon-expanding writing on the Pottermore website, this format is a lovely idea and anyway, I'll take everything I can get from the Harry Potter universe....more
The second of these enjoyable little collections takes on themes of wizarding politics, power and corruption, including a complete list of the MinisteThe second of these enjoyable little collections takes on themes of wizarding politics, power and corruption, including a complete list of the Minister for Magic, the historical background of the wizarding prison of Azkaban and character portraits including Dolores Umbridge, Horace Slughorn and Peeves the poltergeist. ...more
The first of (so far) three thematically grouped collections of J.K. Rowling's writings from the Pottermore website, delving deeper into the Harry PotThe first of (so far) three thematically grouped collections of J.K. Rowling's writings from the Pottermore website, delving deeper into the Harry Potter universe and its denizens, along with some of the author's own thoughts and why and how her creations came to be. This one contains portraits of fan favourite characters Remus Lupin and Minerva McGonagall as well as a few other interesting titbits. ...more
Sixteen years ago, at the age of thirteen, Livia was sold to traffickers along with her younger sister Nason by their own parents. Shipped from ThailaSixteen years ago, at the age of thirteen, Livia was sold to traffickers along with her younger sister Nason by their own parents. Shipped from Thailand together, the sisters are separated en route and when Livia is rescued in a police raid in the US, no trace of Nason can be found. Now Livia is a cop, working for the sex crimes division of the Seattle PD, putting monsters like the ones that took her and her sister either in prison or in the ground. All this time, she has never stopped looking for her sister - and now she has a clue to follow. What she unravels is dangerous and far beyond what the limitations of being a cop allow her to deal with. To confront the horrors of her past, discover what happened to Nason and punish those involved, Livia will have to take the law into her own hands - and she will show no mercy to those who put her and her sister through hell.
Told in alternating pieces of "now" and "then" chapters, this taut thriller keeps you perched on the edge of your seat and absolutely riveted from start to finish. Brutal and uncompromising, this dark and gripping story is definitely not for those of a delicate disposition, dealing with the ugly realities of human trafficking, child sexual abuse and rape in no uncertain terms. With Livia, Barry Eisler has created a new memorable and intriguing kickass character I'm very much looking forward to reading more about. ...more
Corporate executive Spenser is rich, handsome, successful... and alone. His family wants nothing more than to see him happily settled with someone heCorporate executive Spenser is rich, handsome, successful... and alone. His family wants nothing more than to see him happily settled with someone he loves, but in order to protect them can't risk dating anyone and has made do with no strings attached one night stands thus far. On the lookout for another night's company, he meets Evan in a bar and would love to add him to his list of conquests - but Evan's having none of that. No matter how tempting he finds Spenser, he's done with one night stands and won't make an exception. A spur of the moment impulse leads Spenser to invite Evan to join him for Christmas with his family, posing as his boyfriend to make his family happy and make the holiday a lot more enjoyable for Spenser himself at the same time. It's not meant to last more than this one weekend... but who knows what a little Christmas magic can accomplish.
An enjoyable standalone Christmas novella, both heartwarming and sexy. ...more
Alisa has finally been reunited with her daughter Jelena, but unfortunately she still can't turn her back on all the chaos and danger and just go backAlisa has finally been reunited with her daughter Jelena, but unfortunately she still can't turn her back on all the chaos and danger and just go back to to running freight. She has a promise to Jelena to keep: To retrieve the girl's best friend Prince Thorian from the rogue starseer Tymoteusz (who just happens to be Alisa's uncle), who also has the incredibly powerful Staff of Lore in his possession and is planning to use it to take over the entire system. And then there's the Alliance (who aren't currently Alisa's biggest fans), and a bunch of Mafia bosses, and all kinds of other complications. Perfect conditions for a high stakes rescue mission in the middle of events that could reshape the future of the whole star system, really.
Action, fun, mother-daughter bonding, some decidedly less child-appropriate bonding between Alisa and her favourite cyborg... the final installment in this immensely entertaining series has everything its fans could wish for. An extremely satisfying ending all around, though I'd gladly spend more time with all these characters and their crazy adventures. Can't wait to see what the promised upcoming spin-off has in store!...more
Yay, another Fallen Empire short story! In which Alisa and Mica meet for the first time while both stationed on a secret asteroid base during the warYay, another Fallen Empire short story! In which Alisa and Mica meet for the first time while both stationed on a secret asteroid base during the war and promptly end up in a dangerous adventure after Alisa volunteers them for a supposedly simple mission. A quick, fun read - and I so adore Mica and her grumpiness....more
After Aaron's last band crashed and burned when his relationship with the guitarist fell apart, the last thing he should be contemplating is getting iAfter Aaron's last band crashed and burned when his relationship with the guitarist fell apart, the last thing he should be contemplating is getting involved with another band member now that he's joined his siblings' group Schadenfreude. Of course, that's easier said than done, what with a severe case of sparks flying between him and bassist Bastian from their very first rehearsal on. While the band is on the verge of a breakthough to the fame and fortune they've been dreaming of, the two of them begin a clandestine affair behind their bandmates' backs that could blow up in all their faces if it came out.
Electric chemistry between the main characters and steamy sex against the background of the rock music scene - a mixture of ingredients that sounds like a book I'd devour in one go and drool over while I'm at it. If only it weren't for the completely overblown and unnecessary drama in the last part. I wasn't too thrilled with the way Aaron and Bastian were not just keeping their relationship quiet but actually lying straight to peoples' faces about it either - WTF guys, not cool. Less "OMG, INSERT BIG FABRICATED DRAMA HERE" and more development of the romance versus just the physical relationship would have done this book a world of good. (Also, why does the psycho ex-bitch have to have my name? *sigh*)...more