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Book 49 & 50

ノラガミ 13 [Noragami 13] (Noragami: Stray God, #13)ノラガミ 13 [Noragami 13] by Adachitoka

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This volume is grim dark and so very good. There isn’t much I can review without ruining everything so I’ll keep it brief. Hiyori is facing a tough challenge: what she wants to be when she grows up, i.e. it’s time to start choosing schools for her continuing education.
In the meantime, Fujisaki (Yato’s ‘father’) wants her to end her relationship with Yato, believing she’s the reason Yato is trying to change from a God of calamity to a God who brings happiness. He promises Hiyori nothing but pain unless she does what he tells her to and Hiyori’s response is basically “bring it on.”
To her horror, Fujisaki does just that. I’ll leave it with ‘terrible things happen” and Bishamonte, still tracking the god who stole the Word (i.e. Fujisaki), enters the fray, once again not entirely on Yato’s side. This one is going to have long reaching consequences, making you wonder can this story possibly have a happy ending. The art, as ever, is lovely. This is one of my favorite series that I’m currently reading.

View all my reviews

文豪ストレイドッグス 2 [Bungō Stray Dogs 2]文豪ストレイドッグス 2 [Bungō Stray Dogs 2] by Kafka Asagiri

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This volume picks up after the bloody aftermath of the mafia’s attempt to grab Atsushi leaving the boy in the hospital. Atsushi thinks it’s all his fault – helped along by Kunikida who doesn’t know the meaning of sugar coating or comforting – so he pulls the idiot move of leaving the group to keep them safe, not taking into consideration the mafia would already have the armed detective agency in its sights as they are ‘skills’ users and therefore an ever present danger. At least with Atsushi this bone head move make a little bit of sense. He is young (they have nice character bios at the end of ever chapter and I have to say I would have put him at five years younger than his eighteen years so he must be a tiny dude). In addition to having a teenager’s mentality, Atsushi was raised by an orphanage who repeatedly told him he was worthless and caused nothing but trouble and he should just die. That massive inferiority complex the abuse created is threaded throughout the volume.

Atsushi quickly learns he shouldn’t underestimate his new friends. We also meet two new characters, Ranpo who is basically Sherlock Holmes and his chapter was more or less comic relief, and Yosano the group healer (who is feared by the rest of them. I don’t want to ruin why but she is delightfully creepy). She and Atsushi’s story arc takes up the second half of the volume as Atsushi learns the mafia is not nearly done trying to get their hands on him. In the meantime Dazai has gone missing which the team writes off as one of his frequent suicide attempts which always fail. I have to say that part of his character causes me some inner conflict. It’s played as a joke (because Dazai is so bad at it) but he talks of it all the time. I’ve known too many people who’ve committed suicide to be okay with a character dedicated to the act.
I enjoyed the story. I’m looking forward to more. The artwork in this is very nice and the group, over all is fun. Atsushi is a sympathetic character and I’m looking forward to seeing him grow.

View all my reviews

Books 20 and 21

20. The Death and Life of American Journalism, by Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols. This is a must-read for journalists and anyone wanting to save the field and restore it to its Fourth Estate watchdog status. The authors take a thorough look as to what is wrong with newspapers (really, all for-profit generalized mass media but the focus is on the newspaper), where things went wrong and, most importantly, how to bring them back. As to what is wrong, several of the problems McChesney and Nichols point to are issues I've brought up for years. A big problem is that the for-profit, commercial model is falling apart and cannot (and should not) be resurrected. The authors have a greater body of history and research than I do, and show that this model, started about 150 years ago, has been problematic from the start, although only now are the wheels starting to come off. McChesney and Nichols lay out why commercially-run media was a problematic situation, and why technology will not salvage it. But the sections I liked best were the solutions. This is the first book I've read on the subject that actually presents real-world and workable solutions, as opposed to pipe dreams. Essentially the solution is to go back to what our Founders had wanted and spoke for (the authors cite many examples): a heavily subsidized news media. The concept of the L3C corporate status- a fairly new status right now only recognized in a few states- seems especially tailor-made for media. It would allow media to remain for-profit under stringent guidelines. The L3C is for a low-profit entity with a social benefit. The company could could qualify for subsidies and could even apply for grants while still making a profit, as long as its social message is clear. I hope this avenue is explored and takes root. The consequences of remaining at the status quo would be dire, as the authors also illustrate. There are many citations, graphs and charts to back up what the authors say. Now, the big issue of course is will anyone listen. The cynic in me is doubtful. I hope I am proven wrong. McChesney and Nichols provide the tools and ideas- now they just have to be acted upon.

21. A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry. This one fills the Book Riot challenge for reading a classic by a person of color. This one almost felt like a cheat; I've seen this twice, plus I've also not only seen Clybourne Park, a 2010 spinoff of Raisin, I was in charge of props for a second, local production. Still, there's always value in reading a script for a show you've seen, and the forward was worth the read in and of itself. I came to appreciate the humanity of the piece, which stands the test of time because it is such a human story. The play focuses on the Younger family: three generations living in a run-down apartment in Chicago. Their lives change when the matriarch receives a $10,000 check, which brings out the best and worst in all of them. The audience learns of their dreams, hopes and fears, set in a backdrop of discrimination, which shows when Lena decides to take some of the money to purchase a home in a white neighborhood. All in all, it's a great play that deserves the classic title. A pity Hansberry died so young. She was quite prolific in her 34 years; I can't help wonder how much more she could have done if she had longer. Still, grateful to what she was able to do. A Raisin in the Sun is a gem.
From a reading standpoint this wasn't one of my better weeks. I kept pretty busy at work and at home and I just didn't finish all that much.

That being said, I did finish reading Osprey Warrior #63: French Revolutionary Infantryman 1791 – 1802. The book is basically about the French innovation of mass conscriptions which allowed them to protect the Revolution. Moderately interesting.

The other book that I finished was Osprey Warrior #65: US Army Ranger 1983 – 2002: Sua Sponte – Of their Own Accord, the details about the training and use of the Rangers in that period. Fairly good.

I also dumped several books that I wasn't enjoying, but I'm no longer discussing those...

Book #27: Missee Lee by Arthur Ransome

Number of pages: 349

The tenth Swallows and Amazons book had a premise that felt a little far-fetched.

In the first few chapters, the Swallows and Captain Flint end of stranded, after their ship the Wild Cat, which featured in previous books, burns. The following chapter switches to the Amazons, who are (as I understood it) boarded by Chinese pirates and kidnapped, making one attempt to escape, only to be recaptured.

Soon after the Pirates capture the Swallows and Captain Flint, and all seven of them are apparently taken to China, being told they are being taken to Miss Lee, who is apparently their leader. When they finally meet Miss Lee, she apparently wants them as friends, although she also wants to tutor them. However, she won't let them leave the island where she lives.

It was a bit of a strange idea for a plot, and certainly different from some of the previous novels that were set in and around the British mainland, but most of it was enjoyable, as the storyline led towards the "Dragon Festival", which I guessed was a real tradition (part of Chinese New Year, perhaps?); Miss Lee was an interesting character, although I didn't completely understand her motives. It was also good to have all the original characters back after their absence in "The Big Six".

However, I had one big problem with this book...

It was incredibly racist. In fact, I couldn't decide what was more racist and Huckleberry Finn, with its 200 plus uses of "n****r".

I wasn't too surprised at the racism because this book was originally published in 1941, when people were a lot less politically correct, and it manifests itself in the awful way in which all the Chinese characters are stereotyped, not least in the way they appear in the illustrations, but the fact that they were portrayed as speaking English very, very badly (most of it was the usual racist joke that is made about Asians, which involved them constantly referring to Roger as "Loger"). Literally, everything the Chinese characters said was full of this sort of stuff that would never be acceptable in a book nowadays.

So, overall I thought this book was okay; it did have an exciting climax, and it was easy to follow, but the constant racism throughout the whole story was very shocking and so this has to be one of my least favourite titles in the Swallows and Amazons series.

Next book: Brick Lane (Monica Ali)


I picked up P. M. Bovy's The Perils of "Privilege": Why Injustice Can't Be Solved by Accusing Others of Advantage with the hope that perhaps a privileged, properly credentialed newly minted academic might be able to engage my assertion that the privilege knapsack really contains the received practices of the insiders, which is to say, the strategies that the insiders used to interact with each other to mutual benefit, and which, at worst, serve as ways to exclude outsiders, and perhaps the constructive thing to do is for the insiders to honor the outsiders for making the effort, and for the outsiders to make the effort to master the strategies.

That's the understanding of Mitch "Shot in the Dark" Berg, who is currently having some fun with the Minnesota Public Radio types with a tote-bag full of smug.
[Privilege] translates to “freedom”, “justice” and “being accorded the dignity of being treated as an autonomous individual rather than a member of a group” – all of which are supposed to be values near and dear to our Republic and Western Civilization itself, and all of them things we should be working tirelessly to spread to everyone.
The culture-studies types, however, have their own visions of freedom and justice, and a bias toward the collective, which, with a cold civil war brewing, might be hazardous to their health.
And when some mindless Social Justice Warrior jabbers about “smashing white/male privilege”, the proper response is “so – you want to smash freedom, justice and individual dignity?  See you at the barricades”.

Discussion of all other privileges – academic, social, class – were drowned out.  As they were intended to be.
Ms Bovy did tackle the other privileges Mr Berg mentions, but her effort falls flat. Book Review No. 10 counts the ways.
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So answer me this: why is higher education letting people like this set the tone for the enterprise, particularly at the higher tiers of the U.S. News pecking order?

Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.

Number of pages: 296

First of all, I hope no one finds this offensive - I'm trying not to be, though if the mod does choose to delete this post, I'll understand.

This book's author was bought up as a Muslim, but eventually became Christian, largely because of a friend of his from university.

The book provides an in-depth autobiography about how he converted, and the most fascinating parts for me were his explanations of what the Islam religion is like and how it is observed, and also the debates he had with his friend when investigating Christianity, but still sceptical. Some of his arguments he initially came out with against Christianity were even challenging for me, as they raised some arguments about The Bible that I had never thought of before.

This book is largely a Christian message however, and I was particularly struck by the final section, which talked about his final conversion, including the dreams that he believes came from God.

Next book: Missee Lee by Arthur Ransome

Book 48

The Guns Above (Signal Airship #1)The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was lucky enough to get an early copy at the Steampunk Symposium in Cincinnati. I wasn’t going to get it as I’m not a huge fan of military SF/F and this sounded as military as it gets. War and battles aren’t my thing and fighting tends to bore me quickly. However, the editor Diana Pho, talked so fondly of this novel in the various panels at the con that I rolled the dice and bought it.

And I was blown away. It’s probably a 4.5 read for me but the fact that I read a book on battles and wasn’t bored or skimming once, I’m rounding this up to a full on five. I really enjoyed it, one of the better steampunk novels I’ve ever read. I was leery at first. I don’t need much justification for the airships. I’m content that they can fly and fight but Bennis isn’t. A good chunk of her world building is about the mechanics of the airship and it’s woven in so well that it doesn’t feel like it’s bogging the story down. In fact almost all the world building is centered on the tech. The Garnians (our protagonists) and the Vins could be any Europeanesque countries. They’re fighting. No one really even knows why they’re fighting other than ‘we want that piece of land’ and ‘honor.’

In fact they’ve been fighting so long, they made a woman’s auxiliary corps to fill the depleted ranks. The novel opens in media res with the tail end of a battle where our main protagonist acquits herself so well on the battle field that the media gets a hold of it, forcing the military to given her her own ship. Josette fully understands that this isn’t going to be easy. She knows the officers sure as hell don’t want her there and she’s not at all sure about her crew. Worse her ship is a new ‘experimental design’ which is often code for ‘going to crash on the first time out.’ Her immediate superior, part of the nobility, General Fieren is desperate for her to fail and assumes she will before the trial run of the Mistral is even over with.

Fieren is so determined to sink Josette and her ship that he uses it to rid himself of a second problem, his feckless nephew, Bernat (who becomes our second main protagonist). Fieren loves to discuss problems in the museum under works of art he thinks sums up the situation and the one he picks for Bernat stuck with me the whole book because it perfectly captures Bernat at the beginning of the book and how Fieren feels about him (but I don’t want to say and spoil it for you).

Bernat is broke and his mother and uncle tired of him sniffing around for hand outs of cash arrange to put him into the military (and hopefully send him to his death). Bernat manages to twist it to his own ends and ends up as a spy with one job, write reports that will end Josette’s career.

Bernat, with his lacy jackets and luggage of high end foods, sticks out like a sore thumb on the airship, in other words the world’s worst spy. For those of you who think epithets are terrible or lazy writing, you aren’t always right. For a good chunk of the novel Bernat is only called ‘the fop’ by Josette and her crew and it works. It’s meant to put distance between him and the others. (in fact keep an eye on how they refer to Bernie because it’s actually part of his arc).

Not too surprisingly that when they’re on their time trials, they spot the enemy and it’s worse than anyone suspected. It might be the first loss in generations but not if Josette has anything to say about it.

There are two character arcs in this. Josette’s is actually the shorter of the two. She was a bad ass capable soldier from page one. She just had to convince her men. Bernat has the longer journey. Will he remain a spoiled brat of a man with no direction or will he find something in himself even he didn’t know was there. Josette and Bernat are excellent characters and I loved them both. I am hopeful there will be more with them (I suspect there could be since this bore the tag a signal airship novel,which I sort of wish it didn’t because knowing it’s a series means at least one of them has to live so it sucks away some of the tension). Even the cover is cool. It’s not pretty but then again neither is war. It’s the middle of battle, sort of like a blurred photo with Josette surrounded by cannon smoke (and I liked that it was cannons and not aether and phlogiston, which I don’t have anything against but they tend to be used like near magic in a lot of steampunk stories).

And a minor spoiler here, the one thing I wanted was a bit with Bernat and how he felt about his mother and uncle basically sending him off to die. We’re in his head a lot but that betrayal was oddly glossed over. Other than that, I really loved it. And oh, no romantic subplot shoehorned in. I don't mind romantic subplots but it is nice to see something without one.

View all my reviews


This is about two weeks' worth because I didn't have Internet access for a couple of days last weekend. I was out of town, which led to me having more reading time.

First finished book or story or whatever was Faster Gun by Elizabeth Bear, something of a time travel story with aliens in the Wild West. Eh, I'm not that fond of time travel stuff so it didn't amuse me as much as I'd hoped for.

Next was Osprey Men-At-Arms #62: The Boer War, once again an older book of this series and thus with lesser quality plates. It does do a fair job of setting the political stage.

Then, Andorra the Hidden Republic, a rather old book (pre-World War I, I think) that I downloaded from the Internet Archive which deals partially with the history of this tiny country in the Pyrenees, and partially with the travels of this American that included visiting the place. Moderately interesting especially as I've been listening to a podcast about the Albigensian Crusade which took place not far from there.

Follow that with The Monarch of the Glen, something of a retelling by Neil Gaiman of the Beowulf saga using characters from American Gods. Short piece. Good work.

Then, Osprey New Vanguard #33: M3 & M5 Stuart Light Tank 1940 – 45, not the best-designed piece of work an American has ever done.

Next then was The Key to the Coward's Spell by Alex Bledsoe, a short story piece from his Eddie LaCrosse series (I'm not sure about the spelling). Hired to find a lost boy, it deals with trafficking in children in a magical realm/fantasy world. I've liked this series and I hope the author writes more novels in it.

Then I read Osprey Raid #34: Oldest Allies: Alcantara 1809 which discusses the British and Portuguese alliance in the Napoleonic Wars and the raids that knocked the French back from Portugal during the Peninsular Campaign. Pretty solid writing.

Next, Fool by Christopher Moore, something of a retelling of King Lear in a comedic way. Very good read.

I followed that with Osprey Vanguard #38: Mechanised Infantry which gives a general talk about how the infantry supporting tank units are brought to the front in a combined arms fashion.

Then there was Dr. Blink Superhero Shrink: Id. Ego. Superego!, not so much a graphic novel as a collection of pieces dealing with a world full of superheroes who need counseling help as much as the next guy.

Next was Vulture Peak by John Burdett, the fifth mystery novel by this author set in the Bangkok police service. It deals with organ selling on the black market.

Finally I can report finishing Osprey Warrior #60: Sharpshooters of the Civil War. As I've said before, Civil War history is hard for me to read because of my own failure to accept emotionally that the US could have broken apart. Even given my prejudices, I found this book to be a good read, addressing a number of issues leading to the formation of these units on both sides of the conflict.

11. Kiernan - Agents Of Dreamland
A novella that seems to be a mirror of the author's state of mind. Both hot and cold in moods, quietly scary.

12. Vandermeer - Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy
This trilogy is at its best if read together with pause in other books, so having all in the same book is good (too). Don't expect all tied up. Strange yet beautiful.

13. Bridges - A Manual For The Young: A Practical Exposition Of Proverbs 1-9
For those who don't mind books with Puritan traces and slightly stuffy language: this does bring up many good ideas and images.

14. Shriver - The Mandibles
A question of surviving money crisis in more ways than one, amusing and terrifying.

15. Marsh - How To Be You: Stop Trying To Be Someone Else & Start Living Your Life
Cheery, encouraging and very much rereadable book full of good ideas.

16. Nevin - The Last Years Of St. Thérèse: Doubt & Darkness 1895-97
One side of the saint many will probably have missed, yet also giving more weight to why this saint is so good, beyond the 'Little Way'. Good for those who have had moments of doubts and/or 'dryness'.

17. Corey - Caliban's War
A solid continuation, and loved Bobbie especially. :)

18. Mosley & Bee - The Fast Exercise: The Simple Secret of High-Intensity Training (Finnish translation)
From the guy who brought up the 5:2 diet idea, this looks at the HIIT exercise method.

19. Orwell - Homage To Catalonia
Looks deep into the left side of the Spanish Civil War, with something relevant even to the world situation today. My book had intros by Hochschild and Trilling, which I recommend having.

20. Vatassao & Loperena - Get Gorgeous: 21 Days To A More Beautiful Confident You
You do need to read the book through and prepare, if you want to do this in 21 days. Also some day might end up being skipped if you aren't 'make up, little black dress and high heels' type of a woman, but the book works anyway.

Book 19- Journalism Next, by Mark Briggs

19. Journalism Next, by Mark Briggs. Overall I was impressed with this book, although in all honesty any journalist who isn't doing (or at least tried) two-thirds of these things is way behind the curve. There are a lot of good, sound suggestions for journalists for incorporating the various aspects of online applications such as video, podcast, blogging and social media. There's a lot packed in 300-some pages, but it is well-organized and never feels overwhelming. There are many websites, programs and apps Briggs recommends, ranging from free to more expensive but top-drawer. What impressed me is that while the book was published five years ago, the content still feels fresh and relevant. There were a couple times where I was thinking "eh, that doesn't apply now," but only a couple, and they were minor points. That's impressive for a book on technology, especially in a field that seems to change every month (some would say every week, and I won't argue against that).
Only two complaints. The first is fairly minor- Briggs recommends that before doing a podcast or video, the journalist should warm his or her voice up, which YES, is wonderful advice. But then he goes on to say that the should warm up with a familiar song, such as the Star Spangled Banner. I cringed at this. No, don't use The Star Spangled Banner to warm up- you will hurt yourself. Take it from someone who has eight-plus years of classical vocal training. It's best to either sing on vowel sounds or, better yet, buzz up and down a few sets of scales that are easily in your vocal range.
The bigger issue is the overall tone that following these suggestions will help save the journalism industry. No, no they will not. This book is an excellent guide for journalists wishing to make the most of the online resources out there, yes. And don't get me wrong- shrinking newsholes, covering "fluff" for hitcounts, reporting mistakes and credibility issues are a big problem. But anyone who looks to this guide as a means of salvaging the industry will be disappointed. The biggest problem with the industry has little to do with the editors and reporters covering the news. It's that the profit model is deteriorating. Indeed, it is this implosion that is at least partially responsible for the troubles with news coverage.
This very issue is covered in the book I am reading now. No, didn't plan it that way, just serendipitous timing.

Currently reading: The Death and Life of American Journalism, by Robert W. McChesney

Number of pages: 360

This book is about a man called Robert, on an extended trip to Cambodia, who - against the warnings of his guide - goes off with an American called Simon. My guess was that there would be some sort of unpleasant consequence, and after an evening playing cards with Simon, Robert wakes up to find himself being taken away in a boat, and that Simon had taken his clothes and rucksack.

However, instead of ending up in any immediate danger, Robert checks into a hotel room and ends up responding to a man's advertisement asking for an English teacher for his (presumably adult) daughter Sophal, who he falls in love with. When Simon is next mentioned, it becomes appaerent that he is trying to evade a group of people he has upset (related mostly to drugs trafficking as I understood it).

The opening to this story felt promising; I had been led to believe that it was going to involve a British tourist ending up in all sorts of trouble with drug dealers, but maybe I misread the book recommendation that convinced me to buy it. This felt principally like a romance novel between Robert and Sophal, although there was a growing threat from a corrupt cop who was after Robert's casino winnings.

I felt that this book was a bit difficult to follow at times, largely because of characters occasionally being referred to as "he" or "she", making it difficult for me to know who the author was talking about. Another issue I had came from the fact that Robert started referring to himself as "Simon", and that was the name Sophal called him by, so at times he would be referred to in the same chapter as both Robert and Simon. Having two characters referred to by the same name isn't really a great idea, even if the whole point is that one character has started pretending to be the other.

I was hoping for there to be more of a threat from the character who was targeting them, but at the end I felt that the book was not what I'd expected it to be, despite a few unexpected plot twists near the end.

Overall, I didn't think this was a great book; it did a good job of completely subverting my expectations, but often not in a good way, although at least it did give some depth to its characters by giving all of them quite detailed backstories.

Next book: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (Nabeel Qureshi)

Book 47

Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul NashBlack Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash by Dave McKean

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found this one at the library and since I’m a fan of Dave McKean’s art I picked it up. it’s part of a first world war centenary project, 14-18 Now. I know a fair amount of artists but Paul Nash is new to me (which seems to be a large oversight on my part). He was a war artist who went on to be a big deal in England.

In this graphic novel, McKean (and the committee who hired him) wanted to capture Nash’s pain and angst. One assumes that he had his fair share of PSTD. The art in this is absolutely ugly. It’s disturbing, disquieting and it’s supposed to be. McKean can do beautiful work. This is so rough and ugly, filled with muddy browns, evoking the trenches of the war, the bleakness of depression and the strangeness of dreams (harking back to the title).

I wasn’t clear if the dreams and dialogue were entirely fictional or if it came from Nash’s writings or both. Hidden in the back info there is a mention of Nash’s writings as inspiration. Either way it’s interesting stuff. I like how the Black Dog is worked into every dream. I’m also impressed that they wanted to use this medium as part of the project. It’s an important project ad I was glad to see this piece of it.

View all my reviews


The 2016 presidential election combines elements of each, and I'll leave it to the reader to decide whether P. J. O'Rourke's How the Hell Did This Happen: The Election of 2016 and Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes's Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign are more tragic or farcical.  I'll combine these two as Book Reviews No. 8 and No. 9, with the expectation of working off the political hangover more quickly.
Read more...Collapse )Meanwhile, Mrs Clinton's wonky approach was at odds with the voters who were paying attention.  "There's no nuance in the business end of a pitchfork," campaign staff understood (p. 180) as early as the Michigan primary, and when the returns started coming in from Florida and the Carolinas, "[Robbie Mook and Elan Kriegel] were looking at the early warning signs of a wave; all they could do was hope that it didn't wash over the Rust Belt." (p. 377)  And when John Podesta went to the Javits Center to rally the remaining true believers to hang in until all the votes were counted, he went there hoping (p. 386) that the campaign would find "baskets of votes in late returns in the key Rust Belt states."

Those votes were in the basket of deplorables.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)

Book 45 & 46

5 Centimeters per Second (5 Centimeters per Second, #1-2)5 Centimeters per Second by Makoto Shinkai

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve been hearing a lot about Shinkai’s work so I checked out both of the ones the library had. I knew I was probably going to be in trouble with this one because I am not a romance or contemporary reader. As such, take this review with a grain of salt because I didn’t like it. Honestly I don’t even think it works as a romance and at least the back blurb (in English) led me to believe it was, talking about the 90s and life moving at a slower sweeter pace etc. This was more a tale of the disaffected lovelorn that has no actual ending. It just trails off into an open ending nearly five hundred pages later.

It opens with Takaki Tohno meeting a new student Akari Shinohara. Her father was just transferred in. Their friend in grade school (I think they’re around 10-12 when they first meet) is very sweet. Tohno had transferred in the year before and still feels a bit on the outside. To Akari’s delight every time she checks out a book she sees his name on the check out register (for the young people reading this, back in the day there were papers in the books where you wrote your name and the librarian stamped it). Their shared love of books brings them together and they encouraged each other, such as his desire to be an astronaut or a rocket scientist. it skips around a bit to show the passage of time before finally Akari is transferred out when her father’s job changes.

They sweetly arrange to write each other and one whole chapter is of Tohno’s trials to meet her on a train in a blizzard. But, as young love often goes, especially when you add distance, in spite of promising to be together and write etc, the letters dry up and they move on.

Only Tohno really doesn’t move on. That promise to be with Akari shadows his entire life. We have a couple of chapters in high school through the eyes of Kanae, a young girl who loves him but he barely knows she’s there. She promises herself once she learns to surf she’ll tell him. You can guess how well that goes.

It fast forwards again and Tohno is now working a dead end job, his dreams on hold. He doesn’t even seem that into his girlfriend, Risa. It creeps around this subplot for a while before we get the idea that Tohno might give his dreams one more try and maybe find Akari (and we get a similar revisit with Kanae).

And then it’s just over. Maybe if I liked contemporary fiction more I wouldn’t have been so bored. It’s not a bad story and the art is very nice but I do not see the comparison people are making between Shinkai and Miyazaki. This has none of Miyazaki’s magic.

View all my reviews

The Garden of WordsThe Garden of Words by Midori Motohashi

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Garden of Words had an interesting idea that really sort of fizzled out and then went somewhere uncomfortable. I picked this up after hearing a lot of good things about Shinkai but I have to say I don’t like contemporary fiction so this really wasn’t the manga for me. The tag line “Can a poem save your life?’ was intriguing. This story isn’t.

A young man likes to skip school when it rains (I don’t remember the names, that’s how uninteresting this was to me). He meets a woman drinking morning beers in the park. They talk some and she leaves him with a tanka poem to which he spends many weeks trying to come up with the right response. Over the next several weeks they meet in the park.

They help each other by just being a friend to each other. She encourages him to follow his dream (making women’s shoes) and he helps her heal from the anxiety/nervous breakdown she had after she was accused of something at her last job (but we don’t know what it was)

And now for what really ruined this for me (spoilers ahead) was this beers in the morning woman wasn’t guilty of what she was accused of….until she meets him. Now she starts that she’s only twelve years older than him and we learn she was a high school teacher accused of seducing a student and now she’s considering it with him. This manga wasn’t helped by the fact I read it while there was a nation-wide manhunt for a teacher who did just that. It’s not romantic. It’s an abuse of power by an adult over a teen in their control. To me it’s not even a trope, it’s a crime. So yeah, totally the wrong audience for this one. I need to go pull it off my netflix queue while I’m at it.

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Book 44

Dr. Mütter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern MedicineDr. Mütter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found the title to be misleading. I wanted something on the museum and its specimens but that's not what this book turned out to be. It's a biography and I don't particularly care for those. The author admits it wasn't easy to research because Dr. Mutter left no journals so all she had to go on were things written about him by contemporaries. I know it might be old fashioned of me but I miss the days of footnotes instead of all the notes at the end with no in text citations (and most of these sources aren't scientific in nature).

The other thing that bothered me a lot was the way in which this is presented more like fiction than a biography with Mutter's 'twinkling eyes' and grateful, smiling patients and things there is no way to know about. I realize this is done to make the reading less dry and boring but it served more to make me question just how legitimate it is.

Those quibbles aside, Mutter is an interesting man and I liked learning about him. A lot of time is spent on a coworker, Meigs, who is the stereotypical arrogant Deity of a doctor who thought women were stupid. (in counterpoint to Mutter's far more progressive ways). Mutter did a lot of amazing surgeries advancing the techniques during a time of no anaesthesia or even an understanding of how diseases spread or that microbes existed. Heck I learned a modified Mutter flap technique in my surgery classes so he is deserving of a biography.

Over all I enjoyed it but I'd still rather no more about the objects in the museum but that's me. If you like biographies you'd probably like this.

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Number of pages: 260

Max Meyers is an Australian-born missionary, who spent 37 years in Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF); this book is made up of exerpts from two previous books he wrote, "Riding the Heavens" and "On the Wings of the Dawn", sort of like a "best bits" compilation.

The book opens with the story of how young Max had to miss a family holiday; to make up for it, his father took him in a plane, and he developed a love for flying. The next chapter tells of his experience in the Royal Australian Air Force, before he became a flying missionary working for MAF.

I enjoyed reading his stories of experiences on missionary work, including a story about manoevring a plane down a river in the middle of a jungle, and rescuing a man stranded at sea. I liked the way that he managed to compare all of his stories with a reference to the Bible, and how it reminded him of Jesus' mission.

I really enjoyed Meyers' storytelling, which was at times humourous; at one point, he mentioned how he was prevented from sleeping too deeply at night while out in the jungle because his snoring sounded too much like a male crocodile. Overall, a really good book.

Next book: Hunters in the Dark (Lawrence Osborne)

April 2017 reading

April 2017 reading:

17. Down These Strange Streets, edited by George R.R. Martin (479 pages)
A collection of really good and diverse urban fantasy stories. I'll need to look into some of these authors.

18. Magic for Nothing, by Seanan McGuire (342 pages)
Following the Price family's existence being outed after the live-on-TV snake cult take-down by Verity, the Price family must figure out how to handle the fact that the Covenant of St. George is going to come for them--and every criptid in North America. And they are woefully unprepared for a war. The only recourse they can think of is... Antimony, who looks different from the typical Price. And they want her to infiltrate the Covenant, to try to ferret out their plans. It is, they all know, most likely a suicide mission. But it may be their only hope.

19. Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives, edited by Justin Gustainis (221 pages)
I read this for the Rachel Caine story, but wound up reading the rest too. I think I have some new urban fantasy series to check out!

20. Spice & Wolf: Volume 12, by Isuna Hasekura (208 pages)
Lawrence, Holo, and Col, following their last adventure, are pointed in the direction of someone who might be able to help them locate Yoitsu by drawing a map of the Northlands for them. That someone turns out to be a plucky silversmith who decides to request a favor for payment, one that just might throw them into the middle of the next war between the Church and the North--this one over mining, and at risk: Holo's quest. Great read.

April pages: 1,250

Pages to date: 6,136

Progress: 20/52

April 2017 comics/manga reading:

17. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur: Volume 2, by Amy Reeder (136 pages)
18. Revival: Volume 7, by Tim Seeley (144 pages)
19. Video Girl Ai: Volume 1, by Masakazu Katsura (192 pages)
20. Ms. Marvel: Volume 5, by G. Willow Wilson (144 pages)
21. Library Wars, Love & War: Volume 7, by Kiiro Yumi (200 pages)
22. Icaro: Volume 1, by Mœbius and Jiro Taniguchi (160 pages)
23. Icaro: Volume 2, by Mœbius and Jiro Taniguchi (140 pages)
24. The Sandman: Volume 6, by Neil Gaiman (264 pages)
25. Twin Spica: Volume 2, by Kou Yaginuma (192 pages)
26. Hotel Harbour View, by Jiro Taniguchi (92 pages)
27. The Sandman: Volume 7, by Neil Gaiman (256 pages)
28. Children of the Sea: Volume 1, by Daisuke Igarashi (320 pages)

April pages: 2,240

Pages to date: 5,068

Progress: 28/150

Book 43

Killer DreamsKiller Dreams by Iris Johansen

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

At first, I found this one merely improbable but at least interesting then at chapter eight it went off the rails. It opens well with a terrible thing that rips apart Sophie Dunston’s family then picks up two years later. Sophie is working in a sleep lab as a doctor studying/treating nightmares. Her young son, Michael, suffers night terrors from what he witnessed. For some reason, Sophie is being helped by Jock (that name drove me nuts) a super soldier because she wants to stop the man she used to work with, Sanborne. Before that can happen she’s nearly taken out by Matt Royd, another super soldier before Jock can stop him.

It turns out that Sophie had created a drug for Sanborne that was meant to help people with night terrors but instead could be used to do mind control and break a soldier down and let them be reprogrammed if you will (witness both Jock and Royd, the former now working with MacDuff some Scottish lord who seems to be a spy master or something). Royd wants her dead for helping make the drug but once Jock changes his mind, Royd wants her as bait to get to Sanborne.

I was okay with these two men somehow stumbling onto Sophie and the super secret drug she made for Sanborne (and potentially that military) and their determination to stop Sandstone even though about the only character I liked was Jock. But once we get to chapter eight, I lost all respect for the characters. Jock is elsewhere at this point leaving Sophie alone with Royd who has a PTSD night terror and she (keeping in mind she’s a doctor specializing in night terror treatment) goes bungling into his room and nearly gets beat up when she tries to wake him. He calls her unprofessional when she calls him crazy (yeah because shaking a soldier she KNOWS has been tortured mentally and physically and drugged to make a completely obedient super soldier is so professional). But that’s not even the weirdest turn this takes. By the end of the next chapter after a raid on Sanborne’s labs, Royd goes from hating Sophie and using her as bait to wanting to have sex with her.

And spoiler here, when Sophie learns someone in her life has been killed so she can be framed for it, Royd goes out of his way to belittle the person, forces her into a sympathy hug and then keeps bringing up the idea of sleeping with him. It’s utterly creepy. Don’t believe me? Here, have a direct quote:

It wasn’t easy to lie next to her and not move over her. Why not to do it? He thought recklessly. He’d never been known for his restraint, and Sophie was very vulnerable at this moment. He could make her want it. What the hell was he doing trying to be some noble schmuck? He’d always taken sex where he found it, so long as it didn’t hurt the woman..

So this is our romantic lead. He’s perfectly okay with manipulating a woman who just lost someone so he can get his rocks off. He is such an alphahole it’s unbelievable. So we have a manipulative alphahole, a whiny unbelievable as a doctor heroine and a rather ludicrous plot.

I almost never rate a book this low but Royd and Sophie made my skin crawl. I’ve read other books by Johansen that were better. This one isn’t worth the time.

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Apr. 30th, 2017

I tried, I really tried, but I couldn't get into the book I was asked to read. I'll have to send a report to the author, and I'm embarrassed about it.

Anyway, here's two weeks of reading other books that I actually finished. Let's start with Osprey Vanguard #33: German Light Panzers 1932 - 42, an older book on the subject which was reasonably good reading. Follow that with Osprey Vanguard #37: Modern Soviet Combat Tanks, modern for the date of publication, somehow it didn't quite gel for me.

Later I read Osprey Campaign #44: Pavia 1525: The Climax of the Italian Wars, not as interesting as I'd hoped for; then The Complete Tales from the Con, not really a graphic novel but a collection of funny drawings about typical events, heavily exaggerated, at comic conventions. If you're a fan, it's a fun read.

Then there was Osprey Elite #57: The Royal Marines 1939 – 93 which I found to be a solid read about the regiment's relatively recent activities. Follow that with The Hogwarts Collection Volumes 1 – 3, a bunch of quick writings which go into more details about the backgrounds of a number of characters as well as other bits of history from the Harry Potter series. Eh.

Finally I finished reading another Osprey, this one being Osprey Fortress #62: Soviet Field Fortifications 1941 – 45. The detail in this one was pretty fascinating.


Books 17 and 18

17. Glow Kids, by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras. I finished this one for the book on technology category for the Read Harder challenge. This one has actually been on my want-to-read list for a while. I've seen it referenced a couple times in articles concerning education and problematic technology use for children. So I knew what type of message I would be reading. Also, I've seen with my own eyes the effect of people, especially younger people, being glued to their screens. I myself have tried to cut back at least one weekends. It's tough- guess where I am now, ha ha! Still, I was unprepared for the scope and depth of the issues presented here. Now, Kardaras makes clear from the start he is NOT anti-technology, and even indicates where it can be useful. What this book champions against is too much tech and the wrong tech too soon. And his own anecdotes on what he has seen in children and young adults (he's an addiction counselor) who struggle with gaming and technology addictions are unnerving. He not only cites his own observations, but quotes from numerous studies that outline the dangers of too much technology use. Kardaras goes into the history of "glowing screens" starting with television, the Etan Patz kidnapping and how that (plus other societal views) changed how children were brought up, how and why children get addicted and, perhaps best yet, solutions to the situation. There's a lot of ground covered in less than 300 pages. The writing style and organization make it easy to read and understand. Once in a while I wondered if the sarcasm and condemnation came off a bit harshly. For example, he criticized parents who carried their children's backpacks. OK, my thought was how old were the kids and how heavy were those backpacks. Every year before the start of school there are articles from orthopedic surgeons who caution against young children carrying too heavy a bag because it can cause back and neck problems. I once weighed my high school bag once after walking home from school, in ninth grade. It had all my books in it, and it weighed 25 pounds. That was without the folders and binders, which would have added another couple pounds. That was really heavier than I should have been carrying around school, much less carting over two miles from school to home (mind you, I also had back surgery two years before, plus other mild to moderate orthopedic issues.) I can easily imagine a pint-sized gradeschooler's bag weighing 15-20 pounds-far above what they should be carrying. But that's another topic for another day, and I'm really beginning to digress here. This is a small point in an otherwise well-written and researched book. I do hope parents and educators read it and take the messages to heart. There are reasons the American Academy of Pediatrics have set guidelines for technology use for children and teens (http://www.educationviews.org/danger-children-handheld-devices/).

18. Fishing Tips and Takes, by C. William King. I read this for work; I'm not using for the book challenge but those in my neck of the woods who need a book for the book set 100 miles from your location could consider this one, especially if they are into fishing, fly fishing and local lore. King's book was fun to read; he relates his various fishing adventures in someone fictitious fashion, and his stories are amusing. I laughed out loud at his story regarding one of his trips when he saw a colony of bats. I liked it, too, because it brought back memories of me fishing with my dad when I was younger. Never went fly fishing. Admittedly, if you don't like the great outdoors and can't stand fishing, you might not enjoy this book. As well as his personal anecdotes, King sprinkles his short stories with many fishing tips and fly fishing pointers. But for those who do, this is a quick and fun read. King has a warm, personable tone to his writing. It put me in mind of listening to stories on a sprawling back porch on a summer evening.

Currently reading: Journalism Next, by Mark Briggs.

Number of pages: 47

Short novel about a character named Joe, who is charged with saving a politician's teenage daughter, who has been forced into prostitution. However, he runs into a few problems, mostly because of the presence of corrupt cops. Apparently, it's now been made into a movie starring Joaquim Phoenix, to be released this year.

I read this mainly because the writer was Jonathan Ames, who created a show I discovered recently, "Bored to Death", which I really enjoyed. I liked this too, and not surprisingly, the plot put me in mind of the movie, "Taxi Driver".

I found the writing very compelling, although the plot did move forward at quite a pace, and at the end when the truth behind all the events was revealed, I did find myself re-reading a few pages. It did end with a particularly shocking twist, and some particularly violent scenes.

I'd be interested in checking out what other books Jonathan Ames has written after reading this.

Next book: Eyes Turned Skyward (Max Meyers)
I didn't plan my reading that carefully - this should have been book #23, surely.

Number of pages: 451

The final book in Linwood Barclay's Promise Falls Trilogy opens with the entire town's water supply being contaminated, causing everyone who drinks it to become suddenly ill, with several characters ending up dead as a result. It turns out that this is also the 23rd of May, so it is easy enough to guess that whoever was behind all the previous 23-related incidents was also responsible for this.

There is also a separate storyline that involves David Harwood, the hero from the first book, attempting to save Sam Worthington from her escaped convict husband, who seems intent of snatching their teenage son.

Also, yet another murder takes place involving a student, following on from previous incidents that took place in earlier novels.

The narrative structure is the same as the previous books, and is mostly in third person, except for some chapters that are in first-person narrative, and this time it is the local detective, Barry Duckworth, who does the narrating. I was looking forward to reading this, as I knew it would reveal the truth about the incidents.

Quite early on, I got a good idea of what the significance of the number 23 was, which turned out to be partially correct, and I also made up my mind as to who the perpetrator was. I started to feel that the book was going to be a bit of a cop-out, and that there would be no surprise.

I also had mixed feelings at first about the book, because it started off a bit slow; one of the earliest chapters just felt like a montage of characters getting violently ill, one after another.

Luckily, the book did gradually pick up and, although I was worried that it was too easy to figure out the truth, Linwood Barclay managed to throw in a large number of red herrings and plot twists that I was kept guessing throughout. In the end, the only real problem I had with this book was that the plot involving David and Sam was completely disconnected from all the other events and felt like a separate story completely; I'd hoped the two plots would eventually dovetail together.

I thought this book was an improvement on the previous instalment, "Far From True", and this novel really did keep me on my toes until the very end, with one final twist that I didn't see coming at all. It would be good if Linwood Barclay's writing returned to the town of Promise Falls in the future.

Next book: You Were Never Really Here (Jonathan Ames)

Book 42

I think this is the second #42 for me as I was off by one...

Day Shift (Midnight, Texas, #2)Day Shift by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I did like this one better than the first story because it was more compact, not haring off in a hundred directions. Now if you are a fan of only certain characters this one might disappoint you. It’s very much Manfred’s and Olivia’s stories. Lemuel is only in it one brief chapter. Bobo also has a very reduced role. Joe and Chuy have more to do this time and Fiji remains a strong secondary character.

It opens with Olivia and Manfred in Dallas, not together. He’s there to meet with clients and she is there on a job too though that storyline fizzles out a bit which might be for the better as I’m not fond of being forced to root for assassins. Manfred has a client he likes, an old woman with a paranoid son more interested in her money than her. When she dies after telling him she hid all her jewels from her son, Manfred is suspected of theft.

And that’s the main plot, finding the jewels and clearing Manfred’s name. Running with this plot are the two side plots. The one that actually isn’t resolved at the end, the old Midnight Hotel is remodeled very quickly and is partially a hotel and partially a nursing home wait station. For some reason they rounded up a handful of old people from Las Vegas (from a very sketchy area) and brought them there until ‘they can be placed in a nursing home.’ One dementia patient didn’t remember he had a grandson Barry who is taking his life in his hands coming to Texas. The other plot is someone leaves a young boy with the Rev, a young boy who grows abnormally fast and soon leaves the town in fear as the full moon rises.

The nice things here are we do get to see more of Joe and Chuy (what can I say? I like the gay angels) and a lot more about Olivia. Sadly it doesn’t make me like her any more which is a problem. There are only three women of note in this, Fiji (who I like very much) Olivia (who I don’t) and the cook at the restaurant who doesn’t fit in and whose name I can’t even remember.

On the other hand, there were things I didn’t like. There was so much repetition, like how many times did we have to hear about the books Bobo hide by accident that Lemuel needed (which is why he’s gone the whole book, out researching them)? It was so many times I began actually counting. There are plenty of other examples. Also I wasn’t fond of how closely this was tied to the Sookie Stackhouse books. Yes, I know Harris likes to link all her fantasy series but I find it somewhat annoying. Maybe because I don’t remember Barry or Manfred and Barry really represents the Sookie books (but either he’s in the last 3 books which I gave up before getting there) or I just don’t remember him. Also there are other links so much so it felt like you were being arm twisted into buying the other books.

But overall, I really like Fiji, Manfred and the angels and this was fun enough for me to want to read the next one which is progress since I wasn’t sure I wanted to read book two after the first one. I’m hoping we get another female character or maybe expansion of Fiji’s role as Harris often does strong female characters.

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Number of pages: 296

I enjoyed reading the original script for the recent Harry Potter spinoff film, particularly as it allowed me to notice some of the Easter Eggs I'd missed, including Newt's Hufflepuff Scarf, and because I'd forgotten a lot of the story.

The script is quite good, although - because the movie is mainly CGI - the script did seem to have more stage directions than dialogue, and reading the screenplay will never be as enjoyable as watching the movie.

Next book: The Twenty Three (Linwood Barclay)

Book 42

Every Dead Thing (Charlie Parker, #1)Every Dead Thing by John Connolly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available. I was surprised in a way because I had made an assumption that Netgalley would be new books and this one is nearly 20 years old. No matter, I appreciate the chance to read it and receiving it free didn’t change my opinion of it.

I’ve read other John Connolly books with mixed results. This one is a giant mixed result. It’s an odd book. It has a story within a story plot and I still don’t know why. There didn’t need to be this structure nor do I think it worked entirely.

The novel opens with Detective Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker’s terrible loss. While he’s out drinking after a blow out fight with his wife, someone murders his wife and young daughter, flaying them alive (there is definitely dark and gruesome imagery in this). The story picks up a year later after Bird has been traveling from NYC to New Orleans trying to find the man who destroyed his family, meeting up there with an old bayou psychic who can trace her African heritage back to the slaves. Bird is back in NYC where his former boss (as he’s now off the force and has become a PI) hires him to track down the girlfriend of a wealthy young man who might be mixed up in drugs. This takes him to Virginia after her and onto the trail of a serial killing brother and sister from about two decades ago.

And that is just strange to me. That story line is nearly long enough to be its own stand alone novel and could have been a very interesting one. It barely ties into the main plot at the very end and it’s not even necessary to the end so I felt like my time had been somewhat wasted. On one hand it was interesting and well written, on the other, it felt like it had nothing to do with anything.

Once that comes to an end, Bird goes back to New Orleans after the ‘Traveling Man’ (called back by the psychic) taking with in Rachel, a forensic psychologist and Angel and Louis, a gay couple of criminals who ‘owe’ him (Louis appears to be a very dangerous man). He meets up with an FBI friend down there and isn’t invited in entirely to find the Traveling Man but soon enough Bird is caught up in warring bayou criminal families and more people are turning up flayed.

There is just enough repetitiveness in this to wear at you. I actually liked Angel and Louis more than I did Bird. There are only three women in this story (ignoring the above mentioned story within a story) and you just know they’re going to end up dead and/or bait. Sigh. I think honestly if the story within a story had been teased out and made into two novels it might have worked better. Overall it did keep my attention but I didn’t love it either. It has too much going on, too many bits of back story that don’t add anything for me to really enjoy it. It’s a mess in too many places.

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Book #20: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Number of pages: 278

Harper Lee's sequel to "To Kill a Mockingbird" was a book that I was as excited about reading as the original, despite the mixed reviews I had read about it.

Set in the 1950s, the book has Scout, aged 26 and now referred to by her birth name Jean Louise, returns home. Her brother Jem, who appeared in the original book, is now dead and she is engaged to marry a young man named Henry, despite the disapproval of some of her family members.

The big turning point of this book is when she watches her father Atticus Finch at work; Atticus is now associating with a man called Grady O'Hanlon who, while not featuring heavily in the book, is memorable because of his incredibly racist views that he expresses in this scene. The whole episode completely changes Scout/Jean Louise's view of her father, who appears to have become something of a racist (his change in attitude from the original novel is noticeable). Because the book is set in a time when there was a lot of racial tension in the US, it does seem to be a necessary subject matter for this novel.

The first thing I noticed about this book was that, the narrative style completely changed, from Scout's first person narrative in the original to third person perspective, and I wasn't entirely sure why Harper Lee chose to do this. I did notice that the storyline was quite slow-moving, with a lot of talking, and that it was padded out with some flashback sequences to Scout's childhood in the form of her dreams. Overall, I quite enjoyed this, not least because of a heartfelt speech delivered by Scout/Jean Louise near the end. I didn't like it as much as the original, but I don't think it deserves any of the negative press some people gave it.

Next book: Fantastic Beasts and How to Find Them: The Original Screenplay (J.K. Rowling)

Book 41

City of Night (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, #2)City of Night by Dean Koontz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read book one in Koontz’s Frankenstein series a several years ago which is too bad because this takes place right after it and I don’t remember it much. I remember I liked it but this one had problems so it’s like 2.5 stars to 3. It’s not badly written but it’s all over the place. In the first book, Deucalion, Frankenstein’s original monster (who has taken his name from Prometheus’s son) has spent the last 2 centuries learning and controlling his rage. He’s spent time in Tibet at a monastery where the monks have used tattoos to help hide his mutilated face ad in theory help him pass unnoticed but when he went to New Orleans he learned a) his creator had found a way to remain alive all this time b) Frankenstein, now calling himself Helios, has infiltrated most of New Orleans’s with his upgraded ‘New Race’ creations. Deucalion teamed up with two detectives Carson (she has a brother who’s autistic) and her partner Michael. And I liked them in the last book.

This one picks up immediately after that but it instantly fails as Deucalion is only in the first two chapters, disappears for a hundred pages, reappears for a chapter, disappears for yet another hundred pages and finally comes in intermittently at the end. Call me crazy, but isn’t Frankenstein's monster one of the more interesting things about the story? I was really disappointed by that.

But that’s how this thing goes. The first was like this too with a thousand plot lines but this time it was more distracting. One minute we’re with Ericka 5, Frankenstein’s brand new manufactured wife wondering how to please him so he quits hurting her in bed (he’s a sexual sadist), Randle Six the autistic creation is out to find Arnie, Carson’s brother (and does nothing but reinforce negative stereotypes), his landfill workers as something is spawning where he dumps his bad experiments and/or humans he’s killed, and the plot where the New Race are going crazy and self destructing and then Carson and Micheal’s dual plot where a) they’re trying to stop Frankenstein and b) Frankstein’s hit man duo (one who has gone baby crazy refusing to believe she was made sterile).

It’s so convoluted that it felt messy and overly long. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either. At the end of the day, I was disappointed.

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