Posted in Reviews

Review: Manga Classics Othello by Stacey King

Othello by Stacy King (adapted into manga format from Shakespeare with full original text)
Verdict: AMAZING as always from Manga Classics!

Recommended: YES!!
For fans of the original, for classes looking for an accessible yet faithful adaptation, for a really dope story and art that enhances it so much
Expected Release Date: April 20, 2021

Summary

A brilliant general in the service of Venice, Othello is also the new husband of the adoring – and young – Desdemona, whose innocent hero worship has blossomed into love. But can a beautiful girl, so much younger than her husband, truly be faithful? Othello’s trusted ensign Iago seems to think not. Can Othello trust him? Can Othello trust anyone? Manga Classics presents Shakespeare’s classic story of love, hate, vengeance, and betrayal, in its full, original glory! (This volume features the complete, unabridged text from the Shakespeare Play.)

Thoughts

OH MAN. I have been so in love with the Manga Classics line since I started in on it, and when I heard Othello was happening, I was pumped. It absolutely did not disappoint! It’s the original full text, so none of the brilliance of the language is lost. Iago is always and forever my favorite villain, with his shameless, remorseless lying. He delights in it so frequently throughout the story, and so embraces his lawful evil selfishness.

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2 Second Review: Songs of Nature by Sarojini Naidu

Songs of Nature by Sarojini Naidu

2 Sentence Summary

Sarojini Naidu’s collection of poems about nature from the early 1900s focus on her life and experiences in India, embracing a lush and wild feeling. Her work as a poet includes both children’s poems and others with more mature themes including patriotism, romance, and tragedy, earning her the sobriquet “Nightingale of India”.

Thoughts

I was hoping to find some poetry I could sink into recently, and I failed — until I found this. It’s a very classical style, with common rhyming patterns stuck to faithfully, and language like “Lo!” and “but soft, the willow wind sings” and the like. Probably unsurprising, the focus was entirely on nature, and predominantly that of India at the urging of the writer of the forward. There are some that touch on the gods, some focus on foods, and some mirror the animals and forests and streams.

Honestly, it was just so comforting and gentle and carried me along. They made me not worry about anything. I relaxed into the lilt of the language as the rhythms and patterns carried me along, like I was drifting along one of the warm rivers lit gold that she speaks of. My favorite was “To My Fairy Fancies” as a whole, but there were countless lines and images from others that had me dreaming.

It’s gorgeous, y’all.

PS – there are a lot of references to champak blossoms in there, so here’s a pic of them to get you in the mood of the poems ^.^

Posted in Reviews

2 Second Review: The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

2 Sentence Summary

A collection of short stories and a novella with a focus on being black in America and the way race affects interactions large and small. With an incisive focus on relationships and the essence of a person, Evans examines truths of American history.

Thoughts:

The message and style are solid, but man, I just struggle with short stories. Took a risk, struggled through it. Not for me, but maybe for you.

The collection is absolutely a focus on people, in a way that is so close it made me uncomfortable and damn were these hard to read. They felt so true and accurate. I could imagine any one of these as moments happening right now somewhere, and goddamn is that just so depressing.

The effect and message in here are strong; that’s not in question. But my experience of reading this was strained simply due to the format. I know I personally don’t enjoy short stories very much, but I wanted to give this a shot. I had a hard time with, well, how short they were. I just wanted more. Combined with the fact that I felt like I did need time between reading each one for it to settle, and this took a long time to get through. By the end, I’d forgotten most of what was from the earlier sections.

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Review: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
Verdict: eh… underwhelming

Recommended: not really

If you read the blurb and are REALLY into it, give it a go. If you’re interested but not ravenous, probably don’t bother. Stay away if you want the dark moments to make you shiver, and stay away if you want characters who feel like people. Give it a shot if what you want is to learn about the world they live in.

Summary

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

Thoughts

Ehh. I mean, it wasn’t bad. But it just never really sucked me in. I read the story with a bit of detachment the whole way. The ending picked it up a bit, but I probably won’t continue the series. Honestly it doesn’t feel like I need to. The end had a few interesting revelations, but ultimately it didn’t finish on a concrete “WHAT NOW” kind of moment. It didn’t keep me hooked and desperate for the next one.

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Where have all the good books gone?

Hey y’all! I was writing a review today for another book that I ended up not that interested in despite my expectations. I felt like I’ve been doing that a lot lately. So I took a look, and, yep: of the 29 things I’ve finished reading this year, only 2 were rated above a 3 star for me. 😱

Two were rated 4 stars, but both were re-reads (Othello & Eragon), so I don’t count those because I knew I would like them.

And then to think that this isn’t even counting the several — SEVERAL!!! — books that I’ve DNF’d already this year.

I know I tend to be a bit of a stricter reviewer than most people, and rating something 2 stars for me isn’t that uncommon. It’s also not an indictment, but more of a lackluster shrug that something was just ok and I probably won’t remember much of it in a month. But still, y’all… where are all my best reads?

So here’s a request: comment with your absolute favorite book, or one that totally blew you away, so I can give it a try too! ^.^

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Review: World of Warcraft: Death Knight by Dan Jolley and Roccio Zucchi

World of Warcraft: Death Knight: Blizzard Legends by Dan Jolley

Verdict: an ok read, but doesn’t do much of a deep dive and only follows Thassarian through a series of vignette moments in his journey as a death knight. the art was sometimes difficult to understand

Summary

Blizzard presents an original manga set in the World of Warcraft Universe, studying one of the newest classes in the game–the Death Knight. This story follows the tale of Thassarian, a farm boy who joins Arthas’s army and is turned into a remorseless dealer of death — until one order goes too far.

Thoughts

While this was interesting to read, if I didn’t already know the lore and story somewhat, I would have been totally lost. This moves really quickly, doesn’t explain things in great detail, and gives just the straight facts of a situation. If you’re looking to learn the origins of Death Knights, this is more of a supplement than a thorough study, as it focuses primarily on Thassarian’s journey alone. It reads like a collection of memories, each one just touching on the situation enough to see what’s happening, then moving on to the next.

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2 Second Review: When The Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson

2 sentence summary

Three women face their own fears and secrets in Baghdad as they navigate their lives under control of others. They become tied together, and must decide if they will choose the path of betrayal or trust when neither will come without sacrifice and pain.

Thoughts

This is a very slow pace of book, and I actually kind of loved it. It feels so perfectly fitting for the life the three women have in Baghdad. The dull slog through every day for Ally. The intolerable passing of time for Rania and Huda. The burn building just under the surface, while the face must remain impassive. Or more colloquially, like that saying about how a serenely gliding duck is paddling madly just under the surface of the water.

This brushed with some of the most painful things in life. It mentioned them, and moved on, because that’s the way the women must be if they want to keep their lives. The brusque attitude towards horrors, the horrified casualness in dismissing them… it sinks in deep.

Plot was solid. Progression was slow and steady, and then the last third of the book absolutely flew by for me. No romance, just pain and love of a different kind.

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ARC Review: Living With Mochi by Gemma Gene

Living With Mochi by Gemma Gene
Recommended: sure!
For comic lovers, for dog lovers, for pug lovers, for those kids who always wanted a dog and were never allowed to have one….
Expected Release: April 6, 2021

Summary

When architect-turned-cartoonist Gemma Gené first met her pet pug, Mochi, she felt as if time stopped. This dramatic moment and her adoring relationship with the rambunctious pug led her to begin chronicling her adventures with Mochi in a series of incredibly cute webcomics that have gained a social media following of half a million loyal readers. The comics chronicle Mochi’s life from puppyhood to adulthood, featuring Mochi’s unrequited dog friendships, his jealousy of his two dog-brothers, and his love of food. Readers and dog parents will love this humorous tale of a sincerely loyal friendship between one grumpy pug and his adoring owner.

Thoughts

I’ve never had a life with a pug, but I have known several pugs and pug-people. And a lot of these ring true for what I’ve seen from them and from their stories. 🤣 Some of these comics are definitely pug-specific quirks, though a lot are also universal-dog-owner moments. Honestly I picked this up because I haven’t had a pet dog since I was a child and I am finally, FINALLY about to be able to have one again soon. I was hoping desperately for a reminder/primer/preview of what I can look forward to (and brace myself for). This definitely fulfills all those boxes

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ARC Review: The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Recommended: eh, I guess
Cool concept, weak execution. Probably come for the series / idea more than the characters or plot or world-building or moral questions….
Expected Release: April 6, 2021

Summary

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years. The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there. When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all. As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.

Thoughts:

What I liked about this book is probably what everyone who reads this is drawn to: the interesting premise of a human-designed AI taking over the human afterlife. WHAT. AN AMAZING. IDEA. And probably a new fear for a lot of people. This premise is so unique and cool that I can see a lot of similar content sprouting up after people get wind of this idea. And I liked the end, and that may be it’s saving grace to keep me reading this series. I’ll probably give it a second chance to improve.

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ARC Review: The Fox & Little Tanuki, Volume 3 by Mi Tagawa

The Fox & Little Tanuki, Volume 3 by Mi Tagawa
Verdict: a fun continuation of the series that’s a little less strong than the previous installations, but still full of humour and heartwarming moments

Recommended: always
If you’ve enjoyed the series so far, if you’re looking for a lovely lighthearted story, if you’re interested in Japanese bakemono-animals, if you like to have a little laugh 🙂
Expected Release: March 23, 2021

Summary

Legends say that Senzou the Black Fox is one of the most vicious and powerful supernatural beasts to ever roam the land. At least, he used to be. Now, 300 years after he was imprisoned by the Sun Goddess for his bad behavior, Senzou is back — in the form of a small black fox with no powers! Tasked with protecting a young tanuki called Manpachi as he fulfills various tasks for the gods, Senzou must earn his powers back by learning how to be a good guardian to the energetic little pup. Though Senzou is a grumpy and reluctant companion at first, even a hard-hearted fox can be tamed by cuteness… and the little tanuki quickly learns there are some family ties that aren’t decided by blood.

In the third volume, Senzou, Manpachi, and the wolf clan are among humans and investigating a string of missing bakemono. The wolf Hagiri takes this chance to find a small cat spirit he has a bond with, but he can’t ask his clan for help looking for a cat! Hagiri and Senzou make an unlikely duo, but they collide in the search as they discover everything may be more connected than they realized.

Thoughts

This is a strong continuation of the series for sure. In the first installation, we met Manpachi and Senzou and saw their relationship develop. In the second, we learned more about some of the other bakemono they deal with, particularly the wolves. In this one, they’re out of the forest and stuck dealing with some problems around humans. Every book has had a unique plot or element to it, and I hope to see that continue as the world grows more robust.

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