Saturday, December 27, 2014

Book Review: Silverblind

I probably should have mentioned it was unlikely I was going to have a post on Christmas day, I did actually intend to have one up but then I was hit by the headache monster again (and this one is late because of attack of the insane work schedule, I don't recall agreeing to 10 hour shifts when I signed my work agreement!). And next week's movie/comic review is going to be pre-empted by my end-of-year post but that has lists in it and everyone likes lists so I think this is an acceptable compromise.

Well I did it, I got a review of Silverblind out in 2014 even though I wasn't sure it was going to happen! I would like to thank the DC library system and the Montgomery County library system for making this happen (even if both of you have accused me of not returning books this year, took the DC system about 3 months to find one of them!) and again I received this book from as part of a contest. It is an ARC so somethings may be different from the final version but I am assuming that no major plot points were changed between this version and the final printing.

Silverblind by Tina Connolly

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The 12(ish) Days of Anime: ANIME I DISLIKED, 2014 EDITION

Hmm, people like lists right? And ranting uh-huh? I think I get one last good rant out about the anime I didn't like this year, specifically the shows that I was reasonably excited about seeing that had fairly strong opening episodes that then completely fell apart as they went along, yeah I think I can do that!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Cartoon Review: Over the Garden Wall

I give up, there is no way to watch this series legally online unless you're in a very specific situation. io9 has the full first episode streaming legally and the Cartoon Network website has the entire series, but unless you can log in with your cable subscriber information (and only from certain providers) you can only watch clips, that is total bullcrap and thus I pirated episodes two through ten. Clearly I didn't have to do this, I could've waited until this eventually popped up on DVD and hoped that my library would have it, hoped that it streamed on Netflix, or tried to arrange my entire free time schedule around re-airings of the show on tv but none of these are good solutions either. This has nothing to do with the show itself but I am very, very frustrated with how much harder it is for me to find American-made television legally online than it is to find anything else online, that's just dumb!

Over the Garden Wall

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The 12(ish) Days of Anime: Episode 26 of Ashita no Nadja

As I said yesterday, I still watch anime for kids and this year I had a chance to watch one of the "50 episodes of awesome" shojo shows, Ashita no Nadja. It's a really great shojo adventure show, set in either the late 1800s or early 1900s (I think the show did give an actual date late into the show, I want to say shortly before World War I), Nadja has grown up in England believing she's an orphan only to learn that her mother is alive and she joins up with a group of traveling entertainers to go all around Europe to find more clues about her. That doesn't necessarily sound like a recipe for awesome or even enough of a story to fill up 50 episodes, it's not, and the show spends quite a few episodes in it's first half going around to various countries and having the characters just meet people, it's a bit like filler but it's not unpleasant (which is one of the main complaints about filler) and nearly every character comes back later in the series anyway. But you can tell this is a Toei show because it has very important plot revelations, and emotional beats, at very specific parts of the story, the 13th, 26th, and 39th episodes which make the first quarter, first half, and three-quarters mark of the stories and that kind of pacing is something they still use in their Precure series today. And once you hit that 26th episode the show really starts to pull in it's loose ends, introduce it's true villain, and really settles in for a continuous, emotionally-wringing ride that lasts, with very few breaks, until the final episode.

But first, a breather! The 26th episode seems to start out as a breather episode, Nadja and the rest of the Dandelion Troupe are in Spain and it's hot. Everyone is taking a siesta but Nadja has a bit too much energy and so she sets off on her own and runs into an old friend Francis Harcourt, a young British nobleman who seems to be a dead ringer for the white knight who rescued Nadja in the first episode (conniving uncle sending henchmen after Nadja to steal her proof that she's the actual heir to a dukedom, I told you this was a shojo adventure after all!). He seems surprised to see her as well but it's no surprise, they're both hundreds of miles away from where they met after all and the two of them go off for a walk while everyone else sleeps.

At this point I'll mention why I thought this episode was worth singling out, not just because of it's plot significance but because it was directed by Mamoru Hosoda. Yes, the man who did Summer Wars, Wolf Children, and parts of Digimon, for some reason no one ever seems to mention that he did work on other Toei shows too! He also directed a couple of other episodes but I felt like you could see his influence the best here. The whole episode is a bit dreamy, the normally mature Nadja acts a bit more childish and like her age here (he seems to do better with young teens than young children) and Francis is a bit more withdrawn, this dreaminess has brought about both isolation and connection between the two. Francis reveals more about himself and Nadja says that this is a side of him she's never seen before, as if something about this hot summer day has made him open up in a way that she's hoped he would after all of their past encounters. 

But I have a theory, this is an important episode because it has quite a huge twist that was completely out of the blue and un-foreshadowed in any way. I knew it was coming and didn't see any clues for it, heck the show was even inconsistent with it's own visual themes so I wonder if most of the staff was unaware of the twist as well, I certainly wouldn't expect a kid's show to provide no hints at all. So I think this episode was an attempt to rectify it, after all, everything seems strange in a dream and your mind focuses on the oddest of things, why not use it to suggest that something is terribly wrong to lessen the shock of the reveal 20 minutes later just a little bit? Even the visuals seem to have gone up a little in this episode, everything from the backgrounds, the lighting, and the placement of objects in a scene fully contributes to the half-there-half-not feeling of the episode. It's a fully cohesive episode and I think it wasn't by random ordering of the schedule that Hosoda was put in charge of such a critical piece. 

(And to make it clear, I do think this was the best way to handle this problem. The show should have never written itself into such a tight corner in the first place but this was an okay attempt to rectify it. Plus the episode really let Nadja and Francis connect and work out some of their own histories and philosophies, the show isn't quite mature enough to have real themes but the character's motivations are huge in this show. Francis alone brings classism, nobless oblige, the "power" of sudden wealth, and these are all a huge impact on how Nadja grows and chooses what path she wants to walk in the world. Seriously it's a great show, not licensed but after like 12 years all of the fansubs are out!)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The 12(ish) Days of Anime: What I want out of a kids show

I watch anime aimed at kids, specifically kids that is, and frankly I don't care about that part. Sometimes I consume media to get something deeper or more informative out of it or sometimes I want something fun, anime falls under the "fun" category 99% of the time and some kids shows are really a lot of fun without being dumb. Like, in this year's PreCure show (Happiness Charge Pretty Cure) we got plenty of silly faces from the characters, a central plot to help keep the show on course, and then an episode where the villains challenged the cures to a baseball game and one of them decided to use her magical-light-sword-thing as a baseball bat (and we have already established that I enjoy it when baseball escalates in a silly manner). Heck, Gundam Build Fighters is an amazing example of this, the show again has a central plot to keep things on track but you can tell the creators are just having fun with the references, parodies, and generally silly ideas. So the guy running the tournament really has a bone to pick with the main characters? Make their matches impossible to win, make the gunpla play baseball against each other, that'll do it!

Or on second thought, maybe I just like it when anime gets really silly about baseball. Quick, someone recommend me shows that randomly dedicate an episode to baseball and we'll see if it still amuses me!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Book Review: Blue Lily Lily Blue

For those who missed why, I had some massive headaches earlier this week/late last week which made it a bit hard to write this review, even with all the notes I had prepared for it! Hoping that doesn't happen again because goddamn that was painful.

There have been a few reviews which have been tough for me to write this year. Not because the subject matter is particularly emotional for me but simply because I find it hard to do the material justice in a review, I almost feel as if saying "just go read this, you'll like it" would be better. But that's not how I do things so I am going to try once more and talk about what ended up being my most anticipated book of 2014, the third book in the The Raven Cycle. I enjoyed the first book immensely but when I read The Dream Thieves earlier this year, during a particularly weird week of my life, I was struck by how special these books were and this book has those same special qualities to it.

Blue Lily Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The 12(ish) Days of Anime: Why Akari Yomatsuri is my spirit animal

Bones put out a fair number of anime this year, they put out split cours of both Chaika the Coffin Princess and Space Dandy, adapted part of Noragami (and for once didn't shoot themselves in the foot with an anime-original ending), and they also put out a very Bones-y mecha show, Captain Earth. I approached the show not with high expectations but fairly confident I would like it regardless which is exactly what happened, it had quite a few stumbling blocks but really pulled itself together in the second half, although it is a bit worrisome that all of Bones recent mecha shows have had the exact same plotting/pacing issues.

What I didn't expect was how hard I was going to fall for one of the characters; Captain  Earth has four leads, Daichi whose had a connection with space agency/alien fighting agency Globe since he was a child, the semi-alien Teppei and Hana, and then Akari, fully human like Daichi and the daughter of Globe's commander and of Globe's space station commander (they're divorced and don't see her regularly so she regularly hacks all of their computer systems to stay in the loop). In some ways she's the least connected to the plot, she enters the show with a strong sense of who she is already and isn't given as much character growth on screen as the other three (I half wonder if this was unintentional since at times it seemed like they writers meant to but ran out of time, see my complaint with their pacing issues). But she's easily the most fun character out of the bunch, from literally dazzling the stage as she's introduced to complaining (clearly to the audience) about how her status of magical girl in in jeopardy since she's the only one without a cute squirrel side-kick! Plus the show not only gave her a romantic relationship with Teppei but also a very strong one with Hana which a lot of shows neglect to do, they're so focused on forming relationships between the protagonist and other characters that they forget to give the more minor characters other relationships (and she totally nails it by joking with Hana that the two boys are "flirting" with each other when they compete with each other, her genre-savvyiness is pretty amusing without feeling calculated).

But her best moment comes early in the series where the alien organization (the Planetary Gears) take notice of her hacking skills and kidnap her both to help defeat Globe and to force Globe's hand, mocking her self-proclaimed magical girl nickname in the process. They have to let her near a computer to do this and really shouldn't have been surprised when she managed to find a way to retaliate against them, let's just say she was 10 minutes away from destroying the entire planet just to keep the Gears stuck in the solar system for a few hundred million years.

Do not mess with the magical girl indeed. And listen closely, while they use the nickname jokingly here the Gears use it totally seriously for the rest of the series.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Manga Review: My Little Monster (volume 4)

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I think my branch library has gotten a new employee lately who is fairly manga-savy, not just because of the "sad Naruto is over? Read these manga instead!" display but because I've seen more recent manga releases popping up in our small section recently. Obviously this was one of them, I hadn't gotten around to buying the latest volume of My Little Monster yet for, well, actually that's part of the review!

My Little Monster (volume 4) by Robico

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The 12(ish) Days of Anime: Taisho Baseball Girls

I like sports shows, I watch so many of them I cant really say otherwise, but my favorites are the ones that use the sport as a stepping off point to explore a character's life. If a show is just about a sport then why bother watching, I'd rather just play it, and Taisho Baseball Girls is about far more than baseball. Set in Taisho-era Japan, Akkiko has just been told by her fiancee that girls could never play baseball so she ropes in her best friend Koume to form a team, despite knowing nothing about the sport and practically none of their friends in an all-girls school for ladies do either. But with some pluck they form a team and the show doesn't neglect to show just how much work it is to get in shape for a sport so it is truly a sports show.

To be honest when I was a few episodes in I was a bit bored by the show and contemplated dropping it but kept going on along anyway and it wasn't until halfway through the show that it just grabbed me. The girls are having next to no luck playing other teams since there aren't any other girls' teams out there and so their ace hitter has grabbed Koume (the catcher) and the two are accosting pitchers from the guys teams late at night so she can practice hitting a bigger variety of pitches. Naturally the rest of the team wants in when they hear about it and somehow the episode ends with the entire team, trying to be incognito, chasing a bunch of neighborhood robbers around with their baseball bats. When a series manages to have something silly escalate that much there's no way I couldn't love it!


Monday, December 15, 2014

Anime Review: The 2014 Young Animator Training Project shorts

In case anyone is wondering what happened to Friday's book review, hi, I've had a headache on and off for the past four days and that has made it near impossible to assemble my notes into a full review, just pushing the whole thing back until Friday and investing in even stronger pain medicine.

It's almost the end of the fall season for anime and thank goodness, I'm really starting to run out of things to talk about since I simply don't have the free time to watch a full series right now, even a short one. However, I did remember that I didn't talk about this year's Anime Mirai shorts (if I recall correctly, one or more of them was taking forever to be fansubbed so I gave up waiting on it), one of them I was flat out uninterested in (the anthro one) but I was able to find the rest of them on youtube easily enough. Unlike 2013's Little Witch Academia, none of these are legally streaming anywhere so if you want to watch you'll also have to resort to less than savory means.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The 12(ish) Days of Anime: Watching Anime With Friends (Or Rather, Making Them Watch Anime With You)

So Helen, why is this the 12 "ish" days of Anime instead of 12 regular days? Because I'm still doing my regular reviews these two weeks and just found out on Thursday that I'm apparently working 8 days in a row again, all of that plus other life responsibilities (sleeping, eating, job hunting, KATSUCON COSPLAY PREPARATIONS) mean this just isn't going to work otherwise.

Of course I could have taken off regular reviews for two weeks but somehow that one didn't occur to me.

In any case, for my first three years of college I attended my college's anime club pretty regularly with mixed results, I did see some cool stuff there but we also suffered from "people who think they're witty making comments when they're really not" (at least *I* waited until I got really good at snarking to do it!). Plus, by my senior year it was much more appealing to stay home after a long day of classes and watch what I wanted instead of playing Russian Roulette choosing. But during that time I also started watching shows online with friends, the only reason I stuck with Aquarion Evol was because I had a friend who had loved the first season and so we would find time to watch and message each other on skype to make it better (although half of our comments were complaining that a certain character was taking too long to die). These days it's harder than ever to coordinate with my friends to pull this off but we do try and send each other our thoughts/snarks when we can.

So I fell in love with Gundam Build Fighters earlier this year (it's gonna come up a lot in these posts, you are warned) and was telling a friend of mine who was also interested in the show just how much I loved it. I came home from work one day, tired, and a little freaked out because I had 31 facebook messages and oh my god how many people had I pissed off to make that happen. Here's what it was: 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Movie Review: Wolf Children

Again, sorry for no full anime review on Monday, I've been swamped again and having terrible luck finding some things I really want to review free, legally online without going through a hassle like I don't know, verifying whoever the heck is my cable provider these days.

So I'm a bit late getting around to this movie but when it did come out I saw reviews from reviewers I liked and realized that if most of them were negative about this movie that I was unlikely to love it either, possibly not even like it. But I'm hardly going to turn down seeing a movie for free so why not, I was sure it wasn't going to be absolutely terrible!

Wolf Children

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Book Review: Waistcoats and Weaponry

As a general heads-up, no anime/cartoon review on Monday since all of my plans to watch something have fallen short this week and I'm feeling rather grumpy about it honestly.

Like many things in life, author visits/book-signings seem to be something that happens sporadically and in groupings. I only found out about this one a week beforehand and was rather grumpy since I do own the Parasol Protectorate omnibuses and would have liked to get them signed but they were several hundred miles away from me and I didn't trust the post office to get them up to me in time. I only found out because the local indie bookstore that was helping with the events posted it in their newsletter, Carriger never goes on tour on the East Coast and didn't announce it on her blog until just two days in advance! Grumbling aside, it was a good talk and I was quite happy to spot this book just a couple of weeks later at my other library system since I still recalled some of the things Carriger said in her talk that were rather pertinent to this book!

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Comic Review: The Shadow Hero

I heard Gene Luen Yang talk about this book at Small Press Expo 2013 and it sounded like a pretty cool idea, take an older comic which had never gotten off the ground and indulge in some fan theories by redoing it as a Chinese-American superhero for sure and just making a good story out of it. I didn't expect my library to get it but over the past few months I've started seeing more newer manga titles out there and my theory that my branch suddenly has a very savvy librarian was confirmed when I saw a "Sad that Naruto is over? Try these!" display in the window. I was walking out and glanced back over only to see this book there, doubled back, checked that these books were actually available to check out, and then headed home with one more book in an already too-full book bag, hope some other people got something good out of that display as well!

The Shadow Hero written by Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by Sonny Liew

Monday, December 1, 2014

Anime Review: Coffee Samurai and Hoshizora Kiseki

I'm not sure how but I have less and less free time these days. On paper it doesn't look like I'm trying to do that many things each day but let me tell you that job hunting is a soulless, long-winded task and between that and that the season is juuuuust about to finish but hasn't yet, I'm scrambling again. Thankfully I have (multiple!) back-up plans for these times so here is plan two: watch all of the shorts that Sentai has licensed over the years that are streaming on Hulu. Like the last time I did this (with Cocient and Five Numbers) I'm doing two at once and once again I am reminded of just how much harder it seems to be to tell a good, short story than a good, longer story.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Book Review: Cooperhead

Previously on Narrative Investigations: Helen receives an ARC from Tor only to discover it's the third book in a series, crap! Thankfully her library had the first book in the series but, after writing that review, she discovered that they didn't have the second book! So it was off to the other library system so that a review of Silverblind will still happen before the new year!

Cooperhead by Tina Connolly

Friday, November 28, 2014

Movie Review: Interstellar

Normally this film would fall into the category of "movies I'm interested in but not enough to pay DC theater prices so I'll wait for the DVD" but, much like Princess Kaguya, this is a film where the experience of seeing it on a big screen is part of the draw. Or in this case, seeing it on a 70mm film playing IMAX theater at work with the sound so loud it was literally rattling some of the building (not an exaggeration, I had to deal with the rattling first hand when I was covering for a coworker). Even with an employee discount the ticket price still made me wince, was it worth it in the end?


Monday, November 24, 2014

Anime Review: Tonari no Seki-kun and Magica Wars

This is why I usually take November off, I simply run out of things to review and have to scramble a bit, especially when it comes to anime. Thankfully after doing this for so long I've started to anticipate this so I'm going to do something I haven't done in a little while, I'm going to talk about two series of shorts that came out in this past year. Since two mini-reviews is totally the same as one full length review, right?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review: Dragon Sword and Wind Child

Last February I ordered a microphone from Amazon, got a package direct from Amazon, thinking that I didn't remember that it was an Amazon fulfillment, and opened it up to find a kindle instead. I then remembered that my birthday was in about a week and that this was probably a gift from my mother considering I had mentioned off-handedly that I was thinking of getting on in the next year and confirmed when I started getting email notifications about books from my wishlist being added to my account. Obviously this book was one of them, I forget where in the manga blogosphere I first heard of it but it was an out of print title that had recently popped up in ebook form and it sounded like it had potential so why not?

Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Webcomic Review: The Littlest Elle

Initially I was going to hold off on changing how I did webcomic reviews until the new year but what the heck, I'll talk about it more in my end of year round-up post in about a month but I've decided that I'm going to start doing reviews of completed webcomics I follow as if they were a comic or manga series (even if I reviewed them while they were still on-going since I've done that for manga as well). Of course, this series actually ended months back and I was waffling on whether or not to start doing these reviews now but I have a bit of a lull in my schedule and this artist does have a few other active projects so I'd like to highlight one that she's done to help get people interested in the ones she's still working on (I'm also impressed at anyone who manages to work on three separate webcomics at once, no matter what the update schedule is!)

The Littlest Elle by Elle Skinner

Monday, November 17, 2014

Anime Review: Free! Eternal Summer

This should be the last of my summer anime reviews which is slightly ironic since it's the most summer of the summer anime I watched and I'm seriously contemplating wearing long underwear to work tomorrow (curse you polar vortex). I didn't start out the summer watching this show but I had a feeling I would get around to it sooner or later and I finally did when friends told me it was actually better than the first season which was an odd thing to hear. I never thought that the first season was particularly good or bad, it had it's good and bad parts but was ultimately a bit bland, to hear that the staff decided to do actual character development and build upon the first season was a bit shocking more than anything else!

Free! Eternal Summer

Friday, November 14, 2014

Book Review: Tides

I got this book in a curious way, an author I follow on tumblr reblogged another author saying her second book was coming out soon and she would like to have more reviews of the first book up on Amazon so she'd be happy to send a PDF of the book to anyone who wanted to review it on there. Naturally I was interested so I'll be cross-posting part of this review over there, hope it does some good!

Tides by Betsy Cornwell

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Movie Review: The Tale of Princess Kaguya

I was under the impression that this movie had a one-night only showing in DC and was unhappy that I wouldn't have a chance to see it, until I checked back a week later and discovered it was a one week showing so I still had time! (and right after I bought this ticket I realized another location had opened up for the next week with a possibly even cheaper ticket price, curses) The movie won't be playing long in the rest of the country either so I bumped this up my reviewing queue a bit and let's get to it!

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Monday, November 10, 2014

Anime Review: HaNaYaMaTa

During my Summer 2014 Anime Round-UP I mentioned that this was a show I hadn't tried out yet but was on my short-list to try if I found myself with some free time and that's exactly what ended up happening. I don't remember why but I found myself with a lack of colorful, cute shows in my viewing schedule and this seemed like a natural addition and a good way to fill those lunches at work where nothing else was airing that day.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Book Review: Rampant

Apologies for the lateness of this review and this time I have no explanation for it, I've just been feeling a bit down lately and that makes it surprisingly hard to pull myself together and care enough to write. Wish I could say that it should get better soon but since I'm about to start NaNoWriMo right after this I'm going to take next week off and see how trying to do two different kinds of writing each night goes. I have plenty to review but just no motivation, even though I've figured out a way to pre-write most of these at work!

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Comic Review: Hana Doki Kira

I waffled over reviewing this anthology or not since I don't want to be excessively mean-spirited to a fan project and I know that it's highly unlikely that the creators of these stories will see this review and then keep it in mind the next time they plan something (like you would for a critique). And yet, this was a project I had high hopes for and this book really just didn't pan out for me and I would like to articulate precisely why this was since I do think these are correctable mistakes and not all of them are the fault of the artists.

Hana Doki Kira

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Anime Review: Terror in Resonance

Sorry for the delay here, I seem to write two kinds of reviews: quick ones where I can get one done in half an hour and then monstrous ones that take two hours to do a rough draft and usually I need to sleep on it to edit, guess which one this ended up being? So with that, no introduction this time around and let's just get down to Watanabe's latest series that's not Space Dandy, streaming on Funimations's website and hulu.

Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Reivew: Ironskin

I've been a reader of the blog for many years now and I really like a lot of the books that Tor Publishing puts out, it's a consistently good mix of fantasy and sci-fi, so I read a lot of the excerpts and summaries of new books and I also have fairly good luck with winning their ARC contests. I was hooked when I read the excerpt for a book coming out this fall, Silverblind, it's another fantasy story about a young woman naturalist similar to A Natural History of Dragons (which, if I remember correctly, was also a Tor book), and eagerly entered their contest to win an ARC. I did, opened up my package as soon as I got it, and then did a little bit of swearing when the back of the book mentioned it was the third in a series and I had completely missed that on the website. But thankfully my library had, well, this book and hopefully I'll be able to find the next one soon enough, I need to have a word with my other system, maybe my plan of actually reviewing a 2014 book in 2014 won't be in vain after all!

Ironskin by Tina Connolly

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Movie Review: Belle

Sorry about the delay here, between getting everything watched and written up for the Fall Anime Round-UP earlier in the week and the fact that I'm visiting home this week I completely ran out of time to sit down and watch a full movie until it was too late (next week's looks like it will be late as well probably). And I certainly didn't fall behind because I wasn't interested in this movie, I first heard about the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle a year or two ago, I think it was when the movie was announced and the actress playing Belle, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, mentioned that she was a bit jealous of some of her white colleagues who got to wear beautiful period dresses but there were never any roles like that if you weren't (completely) white. And that stuck with me and convinced me to be excited about the film, even if historicals aren't usually my kind of movie.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall 2014 Anime Round-UP

It's that time again, time to talk about way more anime than is healthy! This one got pushed back a bit late since Mushi-shi: Zoku Shou started oddly late, even the noitaminA shows started a full week earlier than this (and suddenly I am already scared for the show's production schedule). And before I get to the meat of this post, I (thankfully) only have two shows carrying over from the summer, Sailor Moon Crystal and Happiness Charge Precure, I'm ridiculously behind on PreCure since I just ended up getting behind on everything this summer but when I last left it I  liked how the show felt a bit like a throwback to 90s magical girls with it's subplots and focus and I really liked the humor in it. SMC is still only every 2 weeks so staying caught up with it is easier but the show is having all kinds of ups and downs, the art varies wildly even within a single episode (which they thankfully seem to be fixing for the DVD release but it's currently competing with Samurai Flamenco for "most obviously had schedule problems in 2014") and sometimes the direction of the episode itself has been strange. But they've kept in nearly everything I wanted to see from the manga and I still have no urge to see the original tv series so I don't think I'll complain excessively about it yet.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Book Review: Everlasting

Yet another book from my near-eternal to-read list but this one actually had an interesting sounding premise when I looked it up on my library's website! Well, it actually had a premise which is a bit of a rarity in and of itself, but DC you are very strange in so many ways, but what it sound did seem interesting and after a couple of duds I was ready to read something I really liked.

Everlasting by Angie Frazier

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Manga Review: Paradise Kiss

This series falls into the "I've been trying to read this for years but have had the worst luck finding it!" category of this blog which seems to be exclusively dominated by well-regraded shojo stories (heck, I've got a post from years back when I got ahold of the first volume again so that I could finish it!). I did discover reading this that I must have gotten quite far along in one of my previous attempts since there was less new material than I remembered but even if half of this was a reread it didn't diminish just how good this story is.

Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Anime Review: Monthly Girl's Nozaki-kun

These days I get most of my manga recommendations from tumblr, although "recommendation" makes it sound as if people are specifically telling me to read them. This time around I was following a blog for another series altogether, saw them posting a group of strips from this series and fell head over heels for it, I had to make sure I didn't just reblog every single one I came across! I immediately started hoping for an anime since I knew it would be a tough sell to convince my friends to read scanlated 4koma and thankfully one was announced quite soon after I first discovered it and I then proceeded to hope that I wasn't hyping up the series too much. Fortunately it seems like my friends have all fallen harder for this show than I did and I'm still seeing new people every week, people who don't even watch a lot of anime, picking up the show and falling in love.

Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun (Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Review: Crossing the Tracks

Lately I've been working on some knitting projects, well honestly I started one project in mid-June, finished it in time for Otakon in early August, and then started another project in late August, and the thing is that I do most of my knitting on my commute. I take public transportation and, if I'm lucky enough, can get a seat for both the morning and evening and sitting while knitting is infinitely easier than trying to stand and balance knitting. Unfortunately this is also my biggest chunk of free time in the day to do reading so I'm starting to get dangerously close to the end of my book list for reviewing here and honestly even if I was reading on the metro it might not help, it's surprisingly hard to hold a book and turn the pages one-handed if you're trying to use the other hand to stop yourself from creating a human line of dominos. So bear with me if I have to skip an update or two in the coming months, especially since I'm starting a few new series and these days I'd almost rather review an entire series at once instead of talking about the series two or three times in three months or so, thank goodness not everything I'm reading is a sequel!

Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Movie Review: Ernest and Celestine

In case people didn't see Monday's review, between my library woes getting this silly DVD unlocked and the fact that I spent half of last week helping out at a con I was just too bush-wacked to both watch this movie and come up with a review for it, even if it's rather short. So without further ado, a short little review for a short film!

Ernest and Celestine

Monday, October 6, 2014

Anime Review: Haikyuu!!

In case anyone is wondering what happened to the movie review last week, a combination of my library woes and Anime USA just left me with no time to watch the film let alone think about it and talk about it so it's happening this Wednesday instead. Sorry folks, I had like a month of no missed updates there!

Moving onto this review, this year has been an odd one for me anime-wise so far and I realized that might be the case when I looked at my upcoming spring shows and noticed tha I wasn't, over the moon excited for any show and the only one I was confident would be good was a volleyball manga I hadn't even read. Thankfully I did enjoy some of the other shows like Captain Earth and Mushi-shi: The Next Passage but I was right to believe the tumblr hype for this show and thanks to how early it aired I always had something to look forward to during lunch at work on Sundays!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Book Review: Incarnate

Having to change up the schedule this week a little bit since it's been quite a while since I checked out a DVD at the library and forgot that they "lock" their cases so between that and being so happy that this branch finally had a self-checkout machine I haven't had time to actually watch my movie yet! So instead I'll talk about a book I read for an author signing earlier in September, Sarah J Maas of Heir of Fire is doing her book tour and had a stop quite close to me with two other authors joining in, Leah Cypress (I liked Mistwood quiet a bit but not Nightspell) and then this author whom I'd never heard of before! That's as good a reason as any to try out a book, even if I got the impression that at least half of the room had only read Maas's books judging by all the questions directed at her (yes it is her tour but it was still a lot of questions!), plus my library had it on kindle and that really is the best way for me to read when commuting in the mornings, much easier to do one-handed that with a hardcover!

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Monday, September 29, 2014

Anime Review: Captain Earth

It's a fact that if you stick a Bones mecha show in front of me I'm going to watch it, there are several different general styles to how various creators approach mecha shows and I just rather like Bones approach. It's never just a war or a soldiers life for them, it's about the people who end up having to do these crazy things and a lot of self-discovery, this sounds pretty great to me especially since I know that budgets usually don't allow for down-and-out robot punching fests every single episode! And in case anyone reads this review and wonders at a few of the name choices, apparently Bones enjoyed having "The Tempest" and "Hamlet" references in another show so much they added in a number of A Midsummer Night's Dream ones here, although most of them are surface, name-only references without any deep, thematically related connections.

Captain Earth

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Review: The Golem and the Jinni

Wait this is a 2013 book? Shoot, I was totally going to add this to my "best books of 2014" list because it's easily one of the best books I've read this year. I know I said I was going to focus more on reviewing YA books on this blog, since clearly I like them better and I feel like I give them more interesting reviews, but I had seen it reviewed on some mostly-YA book blogs before and honestly thought it was one. And it's a good book, a great book even, so let me try and convince people who like YA and adult fiction alike to give it a shot!

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Manga Review: My Little Monster (volume 3)

Man it's getting tough to do reviews of each volume in a manga series, I think part of my problem with this series is that 1. I remember a lot of the anime so I've got a few volumes to go before anything makes a real impact on me and 2. There's just not a lot changing in these books volume-to-volume since it's a rom-com, not a plot-heavy story. So bear with me with these shorter reviews, I am still enjoying the series for sure but there's just not as much to say unless I go page by page!

My Little Monster (volume 3) by Robico

Monday, September 22, 2014

Anime Review: Aldnoah.Zero

In the past I determined that 12 shows is about the max I can watch in one season and this summer season seemed to prove that, I didn't even watch 12 shows every week and my weekends were still too full! On Saturday's two shows primarily competed for my attention, Captain Earth and this one and they were both a bit uneven, I can't actually remember any weeks where they were both strong, and in the end this was the more uneven, and ultimately weaker, of the two which is the exact opposite of what I would have predicted!


Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Review: City of A Thousand Dolls

This was one of the 2013 books that I was most excited to read, the combination of the premise and the setting sounded rather cool and I did win it in a contest but there were some embarrassing moments when emails just didn't get sent when they were supposed to, plus a few moves on my part, so it took me a while to get to this book. So, it's hard to say that any book is worth a six month wait but did it come close to being worth it?

City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TV Series Review: Elementary (season two)

As readers of this blog already know, back when I started working full time in the spring my watching took a hit and once Agents of SHIELD really picked up I ended up having to put Elementary to the side for a while, even though I had really really enjoyed the first season and this season was just as good. It certainly doesn't help that the only (legal) way I can watch the series online is to do it through CBS's website which only has the last five aired-on-tv episodes and my god the most annoying ads ever. I know some people complain about hulu's ads but here they have four or five commercial breaks and five to seven ads each, all 15-30 seconds long. "So, it's basically just like cable tv then?" Pretty much and it is terrible, please put this show on Netflix streaming so I can recommend it more easily!

Elementary (season two)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Anime Review: Mushi-shi: The Next Passage (part one)

I suppose some people wondered why I never posted this review along with the rest of the spring anime shows, especially since I had made such an effort to finish up the first season of the show in time. It's because this half-season wasn't actually finished, it seems as if Artland has been having scheduling issues so they weren't able to get out the last two episodes in time and then had to wait for a timeslot opening to air them (or there is the terrifying possibility that it actually took them from June to August to make this two-parter at which point I am scared at how the scheduling for the second half will hold up). While Mushi-shi is both consistent enough and character based instead of plot based so I could have easily reviewed it earlier I wanted to wait until all the episodes were out and so, let me once again convince everyone who hasn't seen this show yet to pick it up in time for the final part in October

Mushi-shi: The Next Passage (part one)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review: Nobody's Princess and Nobody's Prize

As is a running theme on this blog, there are some books that have been on my to read list for entirely too long and it's just because I can't get a hold of them and I don't have the budget to blind buy. A lot of times they fall off after a while, I can't remember why I put them on in the first place or the summary starts to sound more stale but this one never did since it's about Helen of Sparta/Troy and, well I'm not named after her but I am interested in the legend*. There aren't as many stories about the Trojan War as there are about other parts of Greek mythology and Helen is always portrayed as either "madonna or whore," and innocent woman who is kidnapped and may-or-may-not have Stockholm Syndrome or someone who willingly deserted her husband and died for it. I was really hoping that these two books would do something different, originally I was going to review them separately but decided that it actually made more sense to talk about it in one review rather than rehash a lot of the same points two times. So there will be some spoilers but not anymore than you'd get if you looked at the summary for the second book before you read the first!

Nobody's Princess & Nobody's Prize by Esther Friesner

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Comic Review: Battling Boy

Another comic I would have read earlier if my library had let me, although this time it's my own fault since I simply forgot to check earlier to see if they had it, still haven't figured out how my city library buys their comics yet (especially since they have volumes 3-5 of Gundam: The Origin but not one or two, I'm really confused by this one!). I'm also confused how it seemed like I was seeing reviews for the next book, The Rise of Aurora West back at the end of July when it's not even out yet, wonder how soon my library can get that one..... 

Battling Boy by Paul Pope

Monday, September 8, 2014

Anime Review: Ashita no Nadja

Over on Star-Crossed Anime Blog, Psgels (I believe this is where I first heard about the series) dubbed this one of the "50 episode Shojo Series of Awesome" and while awesome may be a bit of a strong word I will back him up and say that this is a really great show. I'm more familiar with the shojo demographic of manga than I am with shonen/senien/josei and for me this series was a fun throwback that felt like a mixture of 80s/90s adventure shojo and a number of turn of the century books for girls that I read when I was about ten (The Secret Garden, Heidi, Betsy, Tacy and Tibb, Anna of Green Gables). Those two kinds of stories might not sound that similar at first but they really are, they're almost slice of life stories focusing on the main character as she grows up and her relationships with her friends, her crushes, and the world in general (and the western novels often focus on the girls for years and years which is something you don't really see replicated in any kind of YA fiction these days). And that description fits Nadja to a T, the story starts out with a very small goal but gradually grows in scope until it becomes not quite a coming of age story (merely because Nadja is only 12) but something rather close.

Ashita no Nadja

Friday, September 5, 2014

Book Review: Give Up the Ghost

This book is one of many that has been on my to-read list for years and yet my local libraries never had a copy of it, someday I will figure out why sometimes a library has a book I want and sometimes none of them do but clearly that day has not yet come, thank goodness I keep moving to new areas I suppose!

Give Up The Ghost by Megan Crewe

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Movie Review: Guardians of the Glaxay

When I saw the trailer for this film before Captain America 2: The Winter Solider all I could think was Thank God for Marvel and how they've convinced the movie-going public to give sci-fi films another chance and I don't think I'm going to stop being thankful for this for a while (and it's also proving just how loose the definition of superhero really is which is also a good thing in my opinion). I knew absolutely nothing about this franchise going in except what I saw in those trailers but it looked like it was going to be a fun, spaghetti-space-western romp and that sounded like a pretty great summer movie to me!

Guardians of the Galaxy

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Anime Review: Knights of Sidonia

And so it's time for my first Summer 2014 anime review although I feel like I'm a bit behind the curve since nearly everyone else already has their review of this show up! Which probably made a few people double-take and look at the calendar, Knights of Sidonia is a unique show since instead of being licensed by a traditional licensor it was actually picked up by Netflix who, instead of releasing it as a simulcast in the spring, released the entire show subbed and dubbed back in July which certainly got the attention of more mainstream nerd sites. And it sounds like the show has done well thus far, I had been worried when I heard that Netflix was using this show to test their new idea since I didn't think it would be a hit but it seems like if you put anything on Netflix then tons of people will watch it anyway (plus, given it's status on the "Recently Popular" when I was watching it, that sounds like people are watching it because they like it, not just the first episode out of curiosity and then not following it up).

Knights of Sidonia

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Book Review: Earth Girl

Curse summer colds, I never caught colds this much when I was in college, must be the general public making me sick. Regardless, one other big change from my college town is that apparently the District of Columbia has a law about being in the teenager section of a library if you aren't a teen or accompanying one. So far I haven't seen it enforced yet, and I can still pass for 19 if I try, but it is making me a little more hesitant to go in and browse around and instead I'm getting more and more of my books off of my never-ending "to read" list. Which is probably a good thing for me in the long run but I feel oddly out of touch without that chance to just see what's new on the shelves or simply has an interesting cover.

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

Friday, August 29, 2014

Manga Review: Wandering Son (volume four)

This review is late in more than one sense of the word, can you believe I placed a hold on this volume back in December, shortly after I reviewed volume 3, and even though I was first in line I didn't get the call saying the book was in until July? I know that libraries are big, complicated systems with procedures to follow but that's flat out ridiculous, I had assumed that if the book was already in the catalog it wouldn't be long until it was on the shelves. So, yet again I am behind in the series and it has to once again gently remind me why I'm so frustrated about it.

Wandering Son (volume 4) by Shimura Takako

Monday, August 25, 2014

Anime Review: Riddle Story the Devil

Back when this show started airing in the winter I didn't give it a second glance since the premise seemed, well, dumb. But as with One Week Friends the longer it went the more it seemed like I was only hearing positive things about it so I decided to give it a shot anyway. I was watching it a bit slowly and so I was about halfway through when it ended and then I heard all of those same people start grumbling about the ending. And I decided that oh well, I haven't gotten to a part where I dislike the story yet so I might as well keep going, even if I'm probably also going to dislike it considering that I haven't seen one person remain positive about the ending....

Riddle Story the Devil (Akuma no Riddle)