Book Review – Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Short Stories Vol 1 by Naoko Takeuchi

Title:  Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Short Stories Vol. 1

Author/Illustrator:  Naoko Takeuchi

Format: Paperback

Publication: 2004

Translation: 2013

So it was while I was checking out a local comic book shop of a friend of mine that I went exploring the manga section of the store curious about purchasing a new series that I had heard about and watched to discover that there was a short stories collection of Sailor Moon that I had never heard of.  I was nearly jumping up and down with excitement.  If you have read any of my previous blogs you know that I am a fan of Sailor Moon and this was a must purchase for me (particularly when the store is having a buy one book get a second half off – more adventures and reviews to come because of this sale).

Just barely glancing into the book I was already excited to see that there were several stories that were Chibi-Usa centric.  I’ve been on a recent Chibi-Usa kick due to re-watching the series lately and doing a bit of role playing pertaining to her character.  When I opened the book I admit that I was not disappointed.  This book was as it says it is a group of short stories, things that you never see happen in the anime and of course not in the Manga.  It is kind of fun to think that our beloved Sailor Senshi have other adventures beyond just dealing with the typical Youma.  Of course, the monsters in this book were very much like the others in some ways but in others it was different as some of the villains possessed the bodies of others to do their dastardly deeds.

I think over all my favorite part of this manga as I read it was that it wasn’t focused on Sailor Moon.  I love her just as much as the next and she was featured in several stories and did even fight but it was other senshi that dealt with most of the problems on their own and that was kind of cool to me.  Of the stories I think my favorite was probably “Rei’s and Minako’s Girls School Battle” as it followed Mina being herself and being absolutely hilarious as she tries to fit in at Rei’s school in disguise.  While my least favorite was “The Secret Hammer Price Hall” which focused on two new characters who are supposedly the same age as Chibi-Usa but look to be much older.  They are fashion fanatics, focus on the material talk like valley girls and cosplay and Sailor Senshi.  It was kind of a long and slightly boring story as though out the story  Chibi-Usa had to explain to Hotaru and the readers a lot of the odd terms that these girls used such as Häagled which is their way of saying ate Häage-Dazs ice cream.  I kind of found this annoying having to read so many explanations.  I also didn’t appreciate the objectification of these two girls at the end of the story.  I accept the history behind Sailor Moon and who it is geared for in some respects but when it comes to very young girls like these two girls are supposed to be I have a bit of a problem with – even if they look to be a lot older than Chibi-Usa.

Over all, I would give this book a 3 out of 5 pages as it was a good read but not something I would dub a must read – really this book is more for true fans of Sailor Moon which I like to claim I am even if I am a late adopter into the series.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Brilliant Book

Doctor Who: The Brilliant Book 2011
Edited By: Clayton Hickman
Designed By: Paul Lang
Hardback

 

With this weekend being the 50th anniversary and all of the longest running science fiction show ever, I figured I should review a book about it, but I didn’t have that brilliant idea until like three days ago, and this was the first Doctor Who book I saw laying around.  Thus, it wins the review.

That’s not a bad thing.

The Brilliant Book is meant to be a companion book to the television series.  There are interviews, factoids, and about ten gajillion color pictures.  Plus, there’s an episode guide that includes a quick write-up, the magic moment, deleted scene, Q&A, and more.  The detailed info about creatures and people is awesome, but the cool thing is you also get bonuses about things like how they did the makeup for Silurians or Arthur Darvill ragging on Matt Smith in an interview.

I assume that they did a series of these, and I only wish I could have a bookshelf full of them.

I give the book a 5/5 companions.  :p

My Apologies

It has been several months since I have made a post on the blog here and I feel it is only right that I make an apology for this.  I feel that it is particularly important that I apologize to all of the authors whom I have told I would read their books and do a review.  I have not forgotten you!  I said I would review your books and I will!  I have them sitting with me right now even.  It is an ever long list and it will take me some time to get through them.  I am sorry for the wait.

Anyway, now that I’ve made my apology I feel as if I should give you a reason why there was a sudden vanish on my part.  To be honest life got the better of me.  My main job suddenly cut hours on me and I was forced to take on a second job.  This second job I swear was the death of me as it was a high activity job and I found myself trying to juggle two jobs one being a high energy job and work on completing my masters degree.  It was all I could do to find time just to do laundry let alone read a book.  I was running beyond ragged.

Fortunately, I am no longer working at either job now but life is still crazy as I have found a new job that I am loving but adjusting to still and now dealing with the ever loved month of Nanowrimo.  (I work as a municipal liaison for my region which means Nano is all the busier for me).  Fortunately November is coming to an end and my work for Nano Wrimo is coming to an end as is my academics and my job is a desk job affording me some occasional time here and there to read while at work.

I hope to get back to posting regular reviews by no later than the end of the year.  I actually have two books that I need to write reviews up for that I’ll be posting before the end of the year.  Sadly they aren’t books that were requested of me but I needed to take a small break from books that I’m asked to read and do something for myself so while I’m reading what was requested of me please don’t be surprised if you see some other books reviewed in the mix.  If you have any questions pertaining to when I think I’ll have your book reviewed by please feel free to ask and I’ll try to get you a best guess but I really don’t know what my schedule in the future holds.

Thanks for understanding! I am excited to be back to blogging once again!  I’ll see you on my regular day of Friday with a new review!

Book Review–A Room Full Of Bones By Elly Griffiths

A Room Full Of Bones, Elly Griffiths

2012

Electronic / Kindle Edition

This was a Kindle Daily Deal on 31 October, 2013, because it was a “mystery with a halloween theme”.   That, coupled with the fact that Amazon keeps telling me to read the next book in the Ruth Galloway Mystery Series (A Dying Fall) because I liked Ann Cleeves Shetland Island Quartet, is what led me to pick this particular book as my Halloween read.

I have seldom regretted a book choice this much.

I strongly suspect that this book was written for those who’ve read previous entries in the Ruth Galloway series and decided that–for whatever mysterious reason–they like this world and these characters.   Because there really isn’t much mystery to speak of.   Most of the book is told in present tense from shifting points of view.  Ruth and her married-but-sometimes-lover, police DCI Harry Nelson, spend most of the book doing things like getting up and getting breakfast and driving places while thinking about how much they hate various things.

Really.  That’s the thrust of the book.  I can’t count the number of sections that went exactly like this:  “Ruth is hungry.  She makes herself a bowl of porridge and a piece of toast.  Ruth has always hated  porridge, really.  It’s hot and gluey and not at all like a real food.  But it is quick and filling and she has a lot to do today.”

Ruth Galloway is supposed to be an anthropologist specialising in bones (Temperance Brennan, anyone?)  but she seems to be more of a professional atheist specialising in mocking any and all religions.    Even that of her best friend Cathbad, a practicing Druid who used to be called Michael Malone, is unsafe from endless passages deriding religion as “rubbish”.

I don’t expect anyone to adhere to my religion, and I don’t feel hurt when my religion (Christianity) is derided.   After all, it’s outlasted stronger opinions than the negativity from places like Elly Griffiths’ keyboard.  So it’s not a case of Christian butthurt when I assure you the worst part of this book is the relentless anything-but-the-Bible-thumping that Griffiths engages in.   The reader can’t go three pages without being reminded that Ruth hates Christianity, that her parents were nutters of the Fundamentalist Variety and Ruth hates anything to do with any sort of God.   In fact, by reading this paragraph alone I estimate that you have digested at least 75 pages of the book’s total 353.

If these sins aren’t enough to persuade you, let me add that for mystery-novel lovers the book commits an even graver sin yet.   There is very little mystery to be had.   To be sure there’s a dead body in spooky circumstances in the opening chapter, and a subsequent death further down the pike.   But the book isn’t really about figuring out who did it or why.  It’s about Ruth, her baby by Nelson, Nelson and his wife and  the routines all these people go through in the wake of the first suspicious death.   Even the end discovery of “whodunit” is a non-event entirely, mentioned in passing while discussing some mundanity in the characters’ lives.

This is a smudged-dark romance between two bitter forty-year-olds disguised as a mystery.  It is an atheist polemic disguised as a mystery.  It is not a mystery.

I’m giving it two bookworms because I’m in a charitable mood.

2bookworms

Book Review – Murder in Miniature

Murder in Miniature

Margaret Grace

Paperback, 2008

 

Okay, my wonderful boyfriend and I were out and about last week and we stopped in my favorite bookstore, Mysteries & More just outside of Nashville, TN.  (Hey, they’re the best parts of the review – I have to give them a plug!)  He bought an armload of stuff.  I, on the other hand, saw one book that caught my eye, but it was the more Halloween themed Monster in Miniature, and I decided that I should start from the beginning of the series if I was going to pick up a new author.  No, cozy mysteries don’t usually require that, but it just seemed like the thing to do.  The fact that there’s a quote on the end of one of the bookshelves about starting a series at the start might have had something to do with it.

This is one of those mysteries-with-a-theme that are somehow all the rage.  In this case, the theme is the world of miniature dollhouse making.  It seemed like a weird pairing, but again, Monster looked good, so I grabbed the first one in the series to start with.

In this book, a lot is going on.  The main character, Geraldine, starts the book by running a craft show at the school.  Then her so-called-friend Linda goes missing from her neighboring table, clutching some sort of miniature desk as she did so.  And, really, I could give you a synopsis, but there’s not much of a point.

I’m just going to give you a list of what I don’t like about the book’s main character.

  • Geraldine is 60, and the book is only 5 years old, so she shouldn’t be some sort of old fuddy-duddy moron, especially being a well-traveled east-coast-to-west-coast transport and retired teacher.
  • But she is a fuddy-duddy moron who seems to hate everything.
  • Her son and daughter-in-law, for instance, can’t even manage to give their daughter a girls name, and name her Madison.
  • Shouldn’t everyone be proud that she’s managed to send emails on her dial-up computer?!
  • How will she ever figure out how to take “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” from her cell phone?
  • Her husband died of cancer.  (And she tells us this like a thousand million times)  In fact, I know more about Ken than I know about some of the characters that are actually *alive* in the book, and he has nothing to do with the story at all!
  • Every time she talks to or about anybody, we’re once again reminded of who they are or what they are – LPPD soon-to-be-detective nephew… annoying friend Linda… adopted son of Linda, Jason… former A student… former not-quite-A-student…  etc
  • Nothing about her grandddaughter – who she loves oh, so much – is good enough for this woman.  Aside from her name, we also have to hear complaints about her eating habits, choice of hobbies, tomboy behaviors, etc.  And from description alone, if we didn’t know the kid was 11, you’d be hard pressed to put her anywhere between the ages of 6 and 17 with any level of conviction.

As a side-note to this argument against the MC, my step-mother is exactly the same age (not quite 60 five years ago…).  And she has no issues with a cell phone (with separate ring tones for everyone), a computer, including email, facebook, etc, or her tablet.  And my niece, who just started middle school (when did that happen?!) is totally a tomboy and that’s totally okay.

So, the book feels like it’s about 50 years behind the time it’s supposed to be in.  The character names are either all timeless or nicknames or antiquated to a couple decades before the character in question was born.

And the book goes on and on and on about how Abraham Lincoln is the founder of the town of Lincoln Point and blah blah and there are quotes everywhere from him and references to him every few pages and – there was no point to it and it got really freakin’ old.  Because first of all, the state of California came into being in 1850, so Lincoln had nothing to do with that, especially since California was pretty much because of Polk and Tyler expanding west and pissing off Mexico.  Most of the expansion into the area had more to do with the gold rush than the statehood, and that was 1848.  Lincoln opposed war with Mexico, and thus would have been against pretty much anything that had to do with it (like the annexation that led to the war) as a member of congress, and he took office just six weeks before the attack on Fort Sumter in 1861, so anything he did as president was civil war and slave related.  Thus, the chance that he would have anything to do with a small California town?  About zero.  But yet, the author felt the need to make up this town and put in a million references to an overused president.

And I haven’t even bitched about the mystery yet.  So somewhere by about page 100, we’ve established most of the mystery and what happened.  And solved most of it.  So the next 150 pages are pretty much pointless and deal with the same crap over and over again – her issues with Maddie, about a dozen really out there bad ideas about the case that she has no reason to really be a part of at this point, a local election that has nothing whatsoever to do with the book…  And the, I dunno, red herrings? in the story are about as obvious and stupid as a three dollar bill.

The miniature theme is somewhat related to the story, but also somewhat stupid, and a lot out of place.  For instance, Linda’s desk is important to the story.  Being told that Geraldine pulled into the driveway with Maddie of her not-miniature house wasn’t even a cute detail to the book.  Working on a miniature scene with Maddie was an acceptable way to give us conversation without just a boring blob of text.  Telling us what fabrics you’re pulling out for your friends projects was a waste of paper.

Also, there are some things that the MC decides on that are such ridiculous jumps of logic that I sat there going WTF for a minute.  Yes, I understand whodunnit, but I feel like I’ve somehow missed two pages of explanation telling me why or how.

I’m going to stop here.  I could spend a lot more words complaining.

 

Here’s the bottom line.

The story had potential, but the author was too preoccupied with telling us about dollhouse miniatures and how the main character was related to everyone and what she thought (negatively) about them.  There are very few good comments about anyone in the book, and the main character’s lack of being able to think about anything nice was really unappealing.  My grandmother may have told *me* she wished I’d change my hairstyle or wear a dress once in a while, but she wouldn’t have told anyone who could listen, and I really wanted to slap Geraldine for the way she talked about her granddaughter by the time the book was done.

While some of the characters are developed somewhat, it’s a weird pick and chose of who matters – why do we know more about Ken than we do about the two dead people they spend half the book collecting gossip about?!

The pacing sucked.  If the last 150 pages were paced like the first 100, it would have been a lot better.

 

I’m going to give the book a 2/5.  If you like cozy mysteries with silly themes or you’re so into miniatures that nothing else matters except that silly little desk, go ahead and pick it up when you’re out of anything else, but I just don’t think you’re going to get enough out of it to want to go out of your way with this one.

Book Review–The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves (Book 2 of The Raven Cycle)

Maggie Stiefvater, 2013

Kindle Edition

 

I paid full price for this book without reading a single review.  That’s how much I enjoyed the first book in The Raven Cycle–The Raven Boys.

 

Had I read a review or two I may have waited awhile.

Before you get the wrong idea, allow me to explain.    The Raven Boys was the best sort of YA fantasy.  There was a real air of the mysterious, the offbeat, the unique.   The main characters through whose eyes the story was told were warm and engaging and charming.   I would have given anything to spend two thousand pages in Blue and Gansey’s world.

The second book, however, shares a strength and a weakness in its shift to a different central protagonist.   The Dream Thieves centers upon Ronan Lynch, who is a much darker character with a much more intense headspace.     The book is a richer experience on many levels as it pulls the reader into a beautifully-crafted dreamscape with an elegant mythology.   But it’s so much more relentless in the looming dark of it all.   Ronan is filled with anger beyond anger, a rage that envelopes the text and permeates it with a grim sense of directionlessness and powerlessness.

The Dream Thieves is a well-done book, and an interesting one.   It is not a light read by  any means.   It is a book I enjoyed because the story compelled me through to the end, yet I felt undeniable relief upon finishing it.   It was very much like a teeth cleaning in that “wow, I’m glad I did that but boy am I glad it’s over” way.

I’d give Raven Boys five bookworms, but I’m afraid we’ll have to stick with four for The Dream Thieves.  Any book that’s a relief to finish is a shade less than perfect in my view.

4 bookworms

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