Brilliant Book Reviews Just another WordPress site Tue, 01 Dec 2015 14:44:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Haikasoru Promotes ‘Melancholy Of Mechangirl’ Novel Release Mon, 21 Oct 2013 06:07:59 +0000 VIZ MEDIA’S HAIKASORU IMPRINT DEBUTS CELEBRATED SCI-FI AUTHOR CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE’S MELANCHOLY OF MECHAGIRL

Award Winning New York Times Bestselling Author Delivers An Exciting Collection Of Inventive Short Stories Inspired By Japan

VIZ Media’s Haikasoru literary imprint delivers an exciting collection of stories and poems by New York Times best-selling fantasy and science fiction author, Catherynne M. Valente, as it announces the release of MELANCHOLY OF MECHAGIRL. The new book is available now through all major book retailers, is rated ‘T’ for Teens, and carries an MSRP of $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN. An eBook edition is also available for $8.99 (U.S. / CAN) for the Amazon Kindle, Apple’s iBooks Store, and the Barnes & Noble’s Nook Book Store.

Haikasoru publishes some of the most compelling contemporary Japanese science fiction and fantasy stories for English-speaking audiences, and is the first imprint based in the U.S. dedicated to Japanese science fiction and fantasy in translation.

A woman who dreams of machines; a paper lantern that falls in love; the most compelling video game that you’ve never played – and that nobody can ever play twice. This collection of Catherynne M. Valente’s stories and poems with Japanese themes includes the celebrated novella, “Silently And Very Fast,” the award-nominated, “13 Ways of Looking at Space/Time,” and“Ghosts of Gunkankima,” which originally appeared in a tiny book smaller than a human palm and was published in a limited edition of only 24.

“MELANCHOLY OF MECHAGIRL is Haikasoru’s first release by a non-Japanese author, but Catherynne Valente’s vivid prose and Japanese inspirations make this collection ideally suited to our publishing mission,” says Nick Mamatas, Haikasoru’s editor. “The collection of inventive short stories and poems also features some of Valente’s most admired stories, including the Hugo Award-nominated novella, ‘Silently and Very Fast’ and the Locus Award finalist ‘13 Ways of Looking at Space/Time,’ along with a pair of brand-new stories to anchor the collection: the semi-autobiographical, meta-fictional, and utterly magical, “Ink, Water, Milk, and the cinematic, demon-haunted, “Story No. 6.”

Catherynne M. Valente has been lauded by many as one of the best writers to emerge in the science fiction/fantasy genre in the last decade. A New York Times bestseller for The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (#8, May 2011), she has also been a Hugo Award nominee in multiple categories, including Best Novel, Best Novella, Short Form Editor, and Best Fan Cast. She has been a Hugo Award winner for Best Fan Cast, a two-time World Fantasy Award nominee, three-time Locus Award winner (in the same year in three categories), and an Andre Norton Award winner.

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Book Girl And The Scribe Who Faced God Part 1 Novel Review Sun, 20 Oct 2013 23:45:51 +0000 Tohko has done her best to help her friends overcome their tragedies, can Konoha do the same for her?

Creative Staff
Story: Mizuki Nomura
Illustration: Miho Takeoka
Translation/Adaptation: Karen McGillicuddy

What They Say
“I am Tohko Amano. As you can see, I am a book girl.”

It’s been two years since Konoha’s first encounter with Tohko, the mysterious girl who introduced herself so oddly. The two have shared any number of unusual adventures in the interim, but as Tohko’s graduation approaches, she inadvertently confesses a betrayal. Stunned by this revelation, Konoha is further rattled by a warning that his club president will soon disappear!

What is the secret that Tohko has kept hidden? The first act in the finale of Konoha and Tokho’s story begins here!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The previous volume of Mizuki Nomura’s Book Girl series held a secret which didn’t bode well for Konoha and Tohko’s friendship and future.  In it Konoha spoke from a future where he wondered about his precious friend and her melancholy during their strange summer vacation.  A friend that was curiously absent from his present day.  With that immense foreboding in mind we delve anxiously in to the latest story.

Back into the normal flow of time, Tohko has been away from school during her college entrance exams.  (I wonder what Japanese students must think of US high school seniors and our SAT tests.  I can’t imagine any US students actually studying if given the option of staying home or going to class.)  Konoha takes that time away from Tohko and her mandatory book club to try to kindle his budding romance with Nanase Kotobuki.

Konoha’s dates with Nanase are ridiculously saccharine.  The awkwardness of the situation at his house and then her house has all the hallmarks of shy teenagers trying to start a relationship.  I could almost feel their embarrassment, but sometimes it seems that Konoha is a bit too twee.  Nanase remains the perfect tsundare, cold as ice on the outside and a bit stalker on the inside, holding on to even the spare change Konoha gave her.  It’s almost ridiculously too precious, until Ryuto decides to intervene.

Cryptically, and maliciously, Ryuto arrives to make the young lover’s lives hell.  Threatening Konoha as if he’d been leading Tohko on, he sets off a chain of events which bring back into Konoha’s life all of his past mistakes.  First his old editor, second Miu, and finally a confrontation with a distraught Tohko.  Konoha is tipped off by Tohko’s comments during the last major event with him and his friends, evidence that she had read his novel’s manuscript prior to editing.  When he attempts to dig deeper Tohko breaks down in tears and departs.

It’s then that Konoha discovers the secret that Tohko has been hiding from the world.

It’s not surprising that Tohko has a tragedy in her past.  We knew that her parents were not part of her life anymore, and that she was living with a woman whom she considered an Aunt and her ‘cousin’ Ryuto.  The aunt has remained a cold shadow who we’ve only seen once until now.  Ryuto is a piece of work who has been part of several of the novels so far, often playing a major side role in the events.

How I hate Ryuto now.  Beyond his manipulation of Takeda and everyone else in this novel, we learn that he’s to just malicious but also just plain crazy.  His words to Konoha lead down a rabbit hole of jealousy, false friendships, and the relationship between an author and an editor.  Throughout it all are two sides screaming at Konoha to write or don’t write.  To write means confronting the part of himself that he’s been running from, but it also might just be setting himself up to reenact a terrible tragedy from the past.

Tohko remains a young woman who hides a bleak past with a sunny smile.  Closer to Konoha than his girlfriend, closer in many ways than family, she wants only for him to write for her, or so it seems.  A girl who lives with the knowledge of all the skeletons in her family closet, and lives with an uncaring and emotionally broken woman who went so far as to murder Tohko in the pages of a novel and profit on the deaths of her parents.  A complicated tragedy of two women and the man stuck in the middle.

And just what is Konoha’s relationship with her?  He says it’s like that of a sister, but his admiration seems to be far deeper than that.  She’s the only girl he’s that comfortable around, and that level of comfort isn’t usually seen between a boy and girl unless they are in a more intimate relationship.  We’re supposed to believe their relationship mirrors the one between Tohko’s aunt and her father, at least from his perspective.  What about Tohko’s?

Konoha can’t be the author Tohko wants, and it almost breaks him.  Nanase, whose done nothing to deserve the grief she’s suffered in this series, comes to his emotional rescue.  Where does that leave Tohko?  At the end of the novel it becomes painfully clear that Ryuto is not going to let the dead sleep quietly, and unless everyone act out his story he was going to make life hell for Konoha and Nanase.  The real question is, can Konoha save Tohko from her own personal hell?  Until now she’s been the one saving everyone else, and it’s unclear if Konoha can get it together and be the one to rescue another for once.

In Summary

Just when Konoha thought he’d found his footing after a long and tumultuous journey, Tohko’s past threatens to drag him back in to a mire of dangerous liaisons and life imitating books.  Tohko’s parents fate isn’t unexpected, but the circumstances surrounding it are darker and more complex than I expected.  I certainly didn’t expect Ryuto to play the role in this scenario that he is.  While the Book Girl series has never shied away from complex dramas and murder, it’s never felt more personal for the lead as it is here.  A twisted tale of jealously leaps from a book to real life and back to the pages of a book in a cycle which it looks like only Konoha is going to be able to break.  The cliffhanger ending is leaving me on edge, and it’s going to feel like a long wait for the final volume of the main story of a Book Girl and her author.

Content Grade: A -
Packaging Grade: B +
Text/Translation Grade: A +

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: July 23rd, 2013
MSRP:  $11.99

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The Fault In Our Stars Sat, 19 Oct 2013 22:23:59 +0000 I spent an entire year mentally preparing myself for The Fault in Our Stars. I read some terrible books, awesome books and your classic “meh” books. And whenever I’d go to decide which book I wanted to read next, I’d glance at The Fault in Our Stars’ spine and simply turn my head away. To be completely honest, I don’t think I have ever truly went out of my way to avoid a book like this and it’s unlike me to do so. I usually tackle things head on, showing no fear, but with this book I had to approach things differently due to its subject matter. But then Jenn from The Bawdy Book Blog threw this in as a review suggestion, because obviously I needed some John Green edumacation. And I’m so happy someone finally pushed me to read this book because it did not disappoint. Well, not exactly…

It’s easy to see why John Green has the following he does. There is just something magical in the way he strings his sentences together that I can’t help but admire it. It’s simple, deep and humorous all at the same time. And the biggest thing I worried about when diving into this book was the sadness. You go into the book knowing the characters are terminal and I didn’t know how I would fare connecting with a character, loving a character, to ultimately have them suffer and die. I’m a really easy crier and I don’t like seeing people (fictional or real) suffer. But somehow John Green manages to take a cancer book and fill it with the sweetest memories.

For a good portion of The Fault in Our Stars, I found myself chuckling at Hazel and Augustus’ dry humor. The first half was generally light-hearted despite the grim situation the characters were in. Even when things got more serious, the humor was subtly there as a convenient ice-breaker of sorts. If I could describe it, I’d liken it to a grandparent making a joke about their impending death. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, but oddly reassuring that it’s possible to joke about something so morbid. Life goes on.

The plot was simply “ok” for me, never wowing me or keeping me on the edge of my seat. It, at times, seemed to just float by with occasional things happening. There weren’t many plot twists or “ah ha!” moments because you could tell from the beginning how it would end. You knew from the subject matter that it would be sad, and yet… I did not really cry. I did shed The Lonely Tear, but it wasn’t for the characters. It was because of the situation they were in. It was because cancer sucks. Don’t get me wrong, this is a beautifully written book, but the problem I ran into was the questionable authenticity of the protagonists. They never felt like teenagers. I get that they were intelligent and spent a lot more time contemplating life than your average teen, but they never felt real to me. Now, I’m not exactly a stranger to John Green himself. I religiously watch his history webshow on Youtube and I’m often amazed at this guy. But it was like he sat down and created mini-Despicable-Me-minon-like John Greens for this novel. They are all witty, super intelligent and too pretentious for their own good.

Further, it was almost like Green relied on the severity of the ending and the character’s intelligence to jar emotion from the reader. Clearly, this worked since two weeks after finishing, I cried while making pancakes just from thinking about Augustus’ letter to Hazel. But again, this was not for the characters. It wasn’t remotely similar or as powerful of an emotion that I’d felt after I read A Walk to Remember where I cried in my 8th grade English class under my desk. I’m talking about complete and utter sorrow for Landon and everyone else. DON’T JUDGE ME. :P

Anyway, while I remain conflicted on how I feel about the characters, it doesn’t negate the fact that this is a fabulous, smart read that I’d recommend to others.

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cute stuff Tue, 31 Jul 2012 17:26:20 +0000 more pictures

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Im Cool Tue, 31 Jul 2012 17:25:18 +0000 new stuff here


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