My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I've had this one for years so it's a reread as I clear off my shelves of series I never continued with. I actually thought this was pretty good but it didn't snag the part of me that said "oooo must continue this series." It's almost 10 years old for the American translation and 20 for the original run (which is why I didn't offer it to the library,too old). I knew it was older the moment I picked it up. It had that 80s=90s style of manga art, huge footballer shoulders, giraffe necks and tiny heads(the younger readers would probably dislike the art).
Aria is a seventeen year old high school girl, orphan living with her aunt and not helping her in the cafe like she should. Aria sees herself as a protector of the weak and has yet to lose a fight. She's unusually strong. She also is semi-anti-men thanks to what she thinks her father did to her mother.
In comes Sakura, a young man who flirts with her and steals a kiss. But what he's really there for is a series of strange deaths that look like dog maulings. And it is, after a fashion. A Dog, having seen its master killed, goes for revenge, now possessed by a demon. However, the dog isn't the only possessed one. Sakura is also demon-possessed but Aria's touch subdues the demon inside.
Sakura and his reporter cousin, Shiro, are looking for help for Sakura before he loses control and kills someone. He knows once he takes a human life his own life will be over and he'll be nothing but demon. Mucking up the works is a group of people out to kill Sakura.
It was good plotwise but I never warmed to the characters which is why I never continued the series. Aria is very much tsundere and I've never been fond of that trope. It had potential though.
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Dark of the Moon by John Sandford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Honestly more like a 2.5 stars. The actually mystery is a 3 and the rest a complete and utter 1. I like Sandford usually. I enjoy the Prey books and Virgil Flowers is a spin off of those. But this book runs around with its dick out the whole time. Look how MANLY I am. I'm meant for men to balance out all those girlie cozy mysteries I guess.
Virgil has been dispatched to Bluestem Minnesota to help with a strange series of crimes. Actually the book opens with a crime in progress from "Moonie" (the killer's) point of view and if you are a more delicate reader skip chapter one or you get a full on view of an elderly man being beaten and burned alive. Bill Judd Sr who got rich on a pyramid scheme in the 80s destroying a lot of his farming neighbors, not that he cared. Virgil is actually there for a different case, the Gleason murders where an elderly doctor and his wife were killed and displayed in a strange fashion. Sheriff Jim Stryker and Virgil seem to know each other and get along well.
Soon it seems clear that these crimes are linked and more soon follow. Some are convinced that it goes back to that pyramid scheme. Others believe that it has something to due with Reverend Feuer, a cult leader using the Bible to preach hate and intolerance. While there is a possibility that it has something to do with the free love parties Judd had back in the 60s.
The crime parts of this book were good. They were enjoyable. Where this thing goes seriously off the rails is in the 'romance' part of it. For one, Virgil and Stryker are quick to objectify women. I'm really afraid more men than I'm comfortable with think this way. And if this is how Virgil thinks and acts I can see why he's been divorced numerous times. What made it even worse than the childish objectification was that Virgil takes up with Stryker's sister even though she's a suspect in the murders. Not only that he convinces Stryker to take up with Jesse, one of Judd's 60's illegitimate kids who is also a suspect. So now we have two police officers who are so unprofessional they're sleeping with suspects.
And the "sex" scenes are very awkward. They're not really graphic but they are clumsy. At one point Virgil has a "handful of her pubic hair" just the hair? Really? And it gets worse from there. At one point Virgil and Joanie out on her farm which has a dell with a pond, stumble over Jesse and Jim doing at the pond and this turns Joanie on. Yes, she's turned on by her brother having sex and jumps Virgil. Wow, even he jokes about the incest thing. Like I said, one star for this part. No stars. Yuck. The whole 'romance' part really felt like Sandford has no clue how to write a women (I don't remember it being this bad in the Prey books) and should just stay away from romance all together. If I get another Flowers book it will be at the library and no money out of my pocket.
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