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[The Inquisitor's Tale or Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog] by [[Adam Gidwitz]] - 4 1/2 Stars

This is an amazing tale loosely based on historic events and characters. It's a story about three magical children and their holy dog. This tale is told not by one narrator, but by many *possibly drunk* tavern goers. All of whom are happy to share their part of the tale to an inquisitive stranger. As long as the ale keeps coming. What terrible crime could three children and one dog have possibly committed to have their King declare war upon them? Listen to their story and you might just find out.

There were so many things I loved about this book. The way the story was told, the in depth characters, and the honesty of it. How it portrays, that everyone is coming from somewhere. Some people you believe to be your friends may in fact be your enemy; and your enemies, at times, may be the only friends you have. How you treat, and perceive people, and their religions differently depending on how you are raised. This book tells a wonderful story. I read the entire thing in one day, (which for me is rare) and I could barely put it down. It had just the right amount of humor, sincerity, and curiosity about what was going to happen next for me.

"Inside her, great castles of comprehension, models of the world as she had known it, shivered. She could not decide whether to let them crumble or to try desperately to save them."

"Sometimes, it turns out, the most important decisions in life are made by your dog."
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7 vote thearlybirdy | 7 other reviews | Feb 15, 2017 |
It's the spring of 1988 and thirteen-year-old Joe and his father, Bazil, realize that mom hasn't come home to start dinner as expected. Bazil and Joe pile into their vehicle to find her and find her they do. Geraldine has been brutally assaulted and will not, or cannot, say by whom. Clearly, their lives are never to be the same. As details of the assault emerge, along with pieces of the family and reservation history that may have bearing on the underlying reasons for the assault, we witness Joe's coming of age and coming to consciousness. He is determined to know what happened, holding firmly to a belief that justice (retribution?) is the most critical key to returning his secure family life to him. Joe is a lovable, flawed, deeply good, and believably adolescent protagonist and first-person narrator. His father, who "had a profile that would look Indian on a movie poster, Roman on a coin", is also lovable. He is a tribal judge and thereby represents both the hand of justice and the long-sighted role of tribal elders in navigating relations with a US government still determined to renege on promises, ancient and recent. The question of jurisdiction in this crime provides the perfect device for illustrating the tenuous position of American Indians living on reservation within a larger governmental administration physically and bureaucratically surrounding it. But this novel does not get lost in political statements. It is, first and most, a story of a family and a culture, beset by poverty and oppression but also thriving in their love for one another and their persistent hope.

"That we have a real grocery store on our reservation is no small thing. It used to be that, besides the commodity warehouse, food came from the tiny precursor store -- Puffy's Place. The old store sold mainly nonperishable items -- tea, flour, salt, peanut butter -- plus surplus garden vegetables or game meat. It sold beadwork, moccasins, tobacco, and gum. For real food our people had traveled off reservation twenty miles or more to put our money in the pockets of store clerks who watched us with suspicion and took our money with contempt. But with our own grocery now, run by our own tribal members and hiring our own people to bag and stock, we had something special. Even though the pop machine out front was banged in, the magic doors swished shut on slow grandmas, and children smudged the gumball machine until you couldn't see the colors of the candy, it was our very own grocery. Trucks came to it, like a regular store, stocked it, then drove away."

This passage so straightforwardly captures the contempt the residents of the reservation felt directed toward them when forced to shop off-reservation, and the power of something as simple as having their own grocery. It's also an example of Erdrich's magnificently simple and eloquent prose. "...the magic doors swished shut on slow grandmas..." -- I love that.

We do learn more about the details of the crime as we watch Joe grow up. While he is obsessed with finding some resolution for his mother's assault, he is also a thirteen-year-old boy and Erdrich captures that with finesse and compassion. This is a novel about the terrible power of revenge, both for healing and for devastation, but it is also just a story of human love.

This is a remarkable novel, absolutely recommended.
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4 vote EBT1002 | 183 other reviews | Feb 19, 2017 |
I found this book absolutely thrilling. It's long been my opinion that the psychoanalytic tradition is closer kin to religions than it is to the natural sciences, or even the social sciences. In Freud's Future of an Illusion he militates against religion as a "neurosis" of the social body, but his objection is to the credulity of religionists and the counter-factuality of religious doctrines, while his effort there is to explain their persistence. At the same time, he identifies religious functions that psychoanalysis is--by his lights--better equipped to address, thus making religion obsolete.

In Sigmund Freud and the Jewish Mystical Tradition, David Bakan very ably demonstrates the religious sources of the evidently novel concepts and techniques of Freudian psychoanalysis. He supplies some biographical context, showing the genuine enigma of psychoanalytic origins, as well as Freud's access to kabbalistic ideas. Bakan quite suitably draws on Leo Strauss's theory of esoteric text from The Art of Writing to address Freud's apparent textual subterfuges in his antisemitic cultural context. (And he could have gone a step further in showing how Strauss himself was instructed by that context, as well as drawing on Jewish intellectual traditions.) An overview of the Jewish mystical milieu here includes a historical and doctrinal survey. In particular, Bakan points out the major events of Sabbatian and Frankist apostasy, suggesting that Freud underwent a similar development towards a humanistic secularism.

In the original central text Bakan leaves open the question of whether the kabbalistic influence in Freud's formulation of psychoanalysis was conscious or unconscious. But in the 1965 "Preface to the New Edition," he is able to cite his later communication with Chaim Bloch, a student of kabbalah and acquaintance of Freud, who was attested to German scholarship on the subject among Freud's bookshelves along with a French translation of the Zohar.

Moving into the meat of the book, Bakan organizes his study around two complementary symbolic figures--Moses and the Devil--and Freud's treatments of and relationship to each of them. In the final section on similarities between kabbalah and psychoanalysis, the foci are hermeneutics and sexuality. Each large section is divided into short, accessible chapters, and I really did find them a pleasure to read.

This book has confirmed me in my suspicion that modern occult magicians probably read too much Jung and not enough Freud.
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4 vote paradoxosalpha | Feb 16, 2017 |
Deep, poignant, dark, ultimately satisfying, like a long difficult journey where much is accomplished and much is learned.

Interesting to compare Furst's Night Soldiers with the popular WWII spy thrillers of Ken Follett. Where reading Follett is smooth and easy as a skating rink, Furst is toilsome as a narrow mountain trail, full of rocks, caves, dead-ends and thorny ledges.

Not an easy read. In part because of the brutally painful experiences lived by the characters. But also because of the fictional technique: at times as oblique and murky as the world of espionage it depicts.

Furst has a habit of introducing new viewpoint characters just for one or two scenes. The effect is enriching, as we are given multiple perspectives on events and characters. But it's also difficult to follow, as the reader struggles to piece together information about what is happening and why--sort of like the mental work required of a spy.

Overall this is an excellent book, but you have to think hard and pay attention.
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4 vote JackMassa | 32 other reviews | Nov 23, 2016 |
The Unwinding tells the story of the American economic and cultural shifts through the stories of a variety of individual Americans. He starts and ends with Dean Price, a smart white working class guy living in the piedmont of North Carolina, descendent of a tobacco-growing family in a tobacco-growing region which had, by the millennium, fallen into apparently permanent disintegration. Packer also follows Jeff Connaughton, a white upper-middle-class political strategist who spent much of his career shadowing Joe Biden, hoping for a crack at helping "his guy" earn a term in the White House. We meet Tammy Thomas, a relatively uneducated black assembly line worker from Youngstown, Ohio, who watched her community go into deep decline after the Steel jobs disappeared and who, later, found purpose and meaning in local politics as she poured herself into saving the town she loves. We also peek briefly into the lives of Newt Gingrich, Robert Ruben, Andrew Breitbart, Elizabeth Warren, and we follow the radically different trajectories of Tampa and Silicon Valley through the latter part of the 20th and the first decade of the 21st centuries.

Packer's story is that of a persistent unwinding of the American dream, and the role that big money (and I mean big money) has played in that decline. The influence held by the extremely wealthy few and the ineffectualness of even the most inspired leaders to nudge the direction of our plutocracy is, at best, discouraging. Packer calls out individuals who hold some bit of responsibility in creating our current economic and political mess, including Presidents Clinton and Obama, as well as (for example) banks that have lobbied effectively for deregulation even in the face of sound evidence that said regulations protect our economy from boom-bust cycles that tend to most adversely affect the middle and working classes. But this work is less about individuals than it is about a system. It is about a system that is vulnerable to manipulation and undermining, and it is about a system that has become so esoteric and complicated that it's difficult to see where actual individuals might alter its course.

Packer published this book well before the 2016 election but his work appears to have predicted the outcome. I was particularly struck by his description of Matt, Dean Price's lodger who found himself working for Wal-Mart, earning about $8 an hour:

'What really depressed Matt was how monetary everything had become in America, how it was just the biggest profit at the lowest cost. It was all about me, me, me, and no one wanted to help anyone else. The lobbyists, the politicians -- they were all corrupt, taking everything from those who had the least. His favorite thing to do when he was alone in Dean's basement relaxing with a beer was to watch old episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. It was a better America back then. If he could have grown up at any time it would have been in the fifties, which was the last great time in America. He hated to say it but it was true.'

And there is this, referring to Peter Thiel, who originally founded PayPal and has become a wacky but terrifyingly influential billionaire who is on the executive committee of Donald Trump's transition team:

'Thiel was an elite among elites, but he directed his intellectual fire at his own class, or the people a couple of rungs down -- professionals making two or three hundred thousand a year. Elites had become complacent. If they couldn't grasp the reality of a tech slowdown, it was because their own success skewed them in an optimistic direction, and wealth inequality kept them from seeing what was happening in places like Ohio. "If you were born in 1950 and were in the top ten percent, everything got better for twenty years automatically. Then, after the late sixties, you went to a good grad school, and you got a good job on Wall Street in the late seventies, and then you hit the boom. Your story has been one of incredible, unrelenting progress for sixty years. Most people who are sixty years old in the U.S. -- not their story at all." The establishment had been coasting for a long time and was out of answers. Its failure pointed to new directions, maybe Marxist, maybe libertarian, along a volatile trajectory that it could no longer control.'

I don't make that much money nor did I ever work on Wall Street, but I know he is speaking to and of me.

This book moved along at an easy clip: engaging, infuriating, terrifying, and fascinating. I learned a lot. I feel a deeper and more complex understanding of our political and economic system and how we have ended up where we currently are. I feel no more clarity about how we get out of this mess, but I'm also no less determined to join the chorus of voices demanding that the 1950s were not really the greater America and that a return to the cultural values of that time are not the answer to our apparently inexorable decline as a nation. Highly recommended.
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3 vote EBT1002 | 21 other reviews | Feb 19, 2017 |
In The Future of an Illusion, Freud suggests as a germinal postulate of religion, “Life in this world … signifies a perfecting of man’s nature. It is probably the spiritual part of man, the soul …” (23). The Greek for soul is psyche. Psychoanalysis, which set itself the task of diagnosing and treating the psyche (and not merely the conscious mind, nor the organic brain as such), seems to be a phenomenon in some measure tailor-made to supplement, supplant, or substitute for religion. Freud presented a clear claim that religion is a mass neurosis, not only in The Future of an Illusion, but also in his later work Moses and Monotheism. To the extent that one sees the collective problem of religious ‘delusion’ as analogous to obsessional neurosis in the individual, one might take psychoanalysis, the custodian of techniques to address the latter, as a point of departure to cope with the former. And while he does not make light of the difficulty in coming to do without traditional religions, Freud insists on the desirability and even “fatal inevitability” of such “growth” in the human condition (55).

The “care of souls” is the pastoral function in Christian religion, and equally a mission of psychoanalysis as a therapeutic institution, with its priestly class of analysts. Freud does not hold himself back from the pleasures of religiously-based rhetoric. For example, he writes that “the questions which religious doctrine finds it so easy to answer” ... “might be called too sacred” to be addressed in a traditional, unquestioning manner (40). Taking a cue from the Dutch anti-colonialist Multatuli, Freud makes reference to “our God, Logos” slowly fulfilling the desires of mankind (69). And he sometimes shows a rather “religious” tendency (as he would perhaps describe it) to pick and choose among scientific theories for the sake of doctrinal coherence in psychoanalysis.

In one of his devil’s advocate passages in The Future of an Illusion, Freud remarks, “If you want to expel religion from our European civilization, you can only do it by means of another system of doctrines,” which would itself engender a functional religion, with all of the concomitant drawbacks (65-6). In replying to his own objection, Freud emphasizes the desired differences in his post-religious system: it is to be non-delusive and more capable of being corrected. It will be science, not religion. But Freudian psychoanalysis, for all of its scientific trappings, is already at some remove from the positivist territory of the physical sciences. It is no closer to, say, biology, than the monotheism of Moses was to the polytheistic religion of eastern Mediterranean antiquity. In effect, Freud’s proposal is that the superstitious religion of traditions focused on God should be replaced in the future with a scientific religion trained on the soul.
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3 vote paradoxosalpha | 10 other reviews | Feb 16, 2017 |
Perhaps the most delicious aspect of this delightful novel about marauding Northmen is that the joy Bengsston had writing it radiates from every page. The story begins when youngest son, Orm, seventeen or so and already a strapping fellow, is held back from going on a plundering voyage with his father and brother by his mother. Well, wouldn't you know, raiders come along, led by Krok, and kidnap him. Among these men Orm soon proves himself a valiant and intelligent member of the crew. There are various adventures and misadventures, in Spain, in Ireland and England, in Denmark where King Harald holds court, and beyond, even down the Dneiper to find buried treasure. It is at the court of the King that Orm meets the lovely Ylva, daughter of Harald, but he can't have her until he proves himself worthy. But it isn't at all an "and then and then" sort of adventure novel. What makes it rise far above that is the dialogue, the spontaneous poetry, and Bengsston's slyly hilarious way of crafting a description or giving out information of the thought processes of these (mostly) men. At all times these Vikings find hilarious work-arounds to justify their greed and to balance it with their (often self-serving and malleable) concepts of honor. An example: Orm is huge, obviously, and insanely strong and healthy, and yet he is a bit of a hypochondriac. He worries about catching colds, is convinced at one point, when injured, that he is doomed since the lice have left his hair. It's never over-done, but such details make Orm fully human. I took my time reading it so as to savor every word. It is definitely a book I would love to listen to too. *****… (more)
3 vote sibyx | 42 other reviews | Feb 16, 2017 |
Whether or not HIS BLOODY PROJECT can be construed as fiction or true crime is not really important because the story is, in the final analysis, totally compelling. Burnet begins the book by informing the reader that what follows consists of documents he discovered while researching his own family history in rural Scotland. Initially one has no reason to doubt his story. However, despite his claims of non-fiction, the story he is able to tell using these “found” documents is so complete and riveting that this artifice is difficult to sustain. Clearly this is a clever piece of fiction disguised as a true-crime investigation. This notwithstanding does not detract from thoroughly enjoying Burnet’s story.

Roderick Macrae is a 17-year-old accused of the brutal murder of a village constable and his two children in the Highlands crofting community of Culduie in 1869. Roddy is an intelligent boy trapped in this isolated and benighted village. His mother has recently died and his father is withdrawn and abusive.

Roddy’s story is told through a series of documents. Interviews of neighbors tell conflicting stories about Roddy’s character. Some felt that he was a gentle loner prone to dreamy observations, while others described him as a troubled soul prone to evil thoughts and acts. Indeed, he raised suspicion among his neighbors by killing a neighbor’s drowning sheep and not being very religious.

A key piece of evidence consisted of Roddy’s own memoir that relates his version of events. He tells of repeated instances of harassment at the hands of the village constable, Lachlan Mackenzie, a.k.a. Lachlan Broad. Broad had a longstanding feud with Roddy’s family combined with a truly distasteful approach to his job consisting of bullying and pettiness. This is a well-written narrative that begins to raise doubts about the authenticity of the tale Burnet is telling. It seems “quite inconceivable that a semi-literate peasant could produce such a sustained and eloquent piece of writing.”

Autopsy reports and a psychological evaluation by James Bruce Thomson (a real historical figure and eminent criminologist) raise some troubling inconsistencies with Roddy’s version. Was he insane, or just seeking revenge for unbearable abuses of his family? Was this a response to a sexual rejection by Broad’s daughter? We never get answers to these questions, but Thomson’s testimony does reveal much about theories of class and criminal behavior prevalent at the time. Thomson makes a fascinating distinction between what he calls “moral insanity” and “moral imbecility.” The former is nature while the latter is the lack of nurture. Culduie “would seem a kind of paradise… were it not for the sloth and ignorance of its inhabitants.”

Burnet reconstructs Roddy’s trial from transcripts and newspaper reports. These never doubt Roddy’s guilt, but raise considerable doubt about his motive and sanity.

With his clever narrative structure, Burnet shifts perspectives to continuously re-explore the evidence and important themes while developing highly nuanced characters. He evokes a picture of the hardship and hopelessness of tenant farmers and the privileged status of the landowners. He portrays the extreme stoicism of the simple crofters. Moreover, we gives us views of witness fallibility and an early version of the so called “insanity defense.” We do indeed get a verdict, but the truth remains unrevealed.
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2 vote ozzer | 27 other reviews | Feb 16, 2017 |
“But on the village green itself stood the three tall pines from which the village took its name. Vibrant, straight and strong. Evergreen. Immortal. Pointing to the sky. Daring it to do its worst. Which it planned to do.” (Ch 2)

A Great Reckoning opens in Three Pines to fresh snow, and breakfast of café au laits and almandine croissants at The Bistro. Gamache is reading and coding personnel files. As retirement continues to allude him, he has taken a new post as head of the Sûreté's training academy, and is hell-bent on cleaning up the merde left behind by Chief Superintendent Francoeur. But surprisingly, even as Gamache makes sweeping changes to curriculum and admissions, and dismisses several staff, he keeps on the “most senior and corrupt professor, Serge Leduc” and “the quisling Michel Brébuf.”

Experienced enough not to expect a smooth transition into his new position, Gamache is prepared when he takes up office at the Sûreté's training academy – but not for a murdered professor. Four young cadets who were protégées of the deceased are prime suspects – among them Amelia Choquet, whom Gamache himself recently recruited. Tattooed, pierced, guarded, and angry, Choquet is more likely to be found on the other side of a police line-up – and yet here she is. Still more odd, discovered with the body is a copy of an intricate, old, orienteering map that had been found stuffed into the walls of The Bistro and presented to Gamache as a gift when he started his new job. The investigation soon turns toward Gamache: to his mysterious relationship with Amelia Choquet, and his possible involvement in the crime.

I’m so delighted that Penny has continued to write her Three Pines series. The characters have become old friends, and the quaint village in Quebec’s Eastern Townships is, I think, a place I’d like to retire! Highly recommended, both A Great Reckoning and the entire series.

"The real criminals, the worst criminals, weren’t found off the beaten path. They were found in our kitchens, at our tables. Unspectacular and always human.” (Ch 34)

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2 vote lit_chick | 44 other reviews | Feb 15, 2017 |
Few readers astounded by Alexandre Dumas' swashbuckling tales of derring do in The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers realize they have a basis in a true French hero - Dumas' father. The story of Thomas-Alexandre Dumas - a larger than life character befitting any novel - is well worth resurrecting from obscurity. He was a black man who rose to Commander-in-Chief (equivalent of a four star general), "the highest rank for a man of color in an all-white army before Colin Powell."

Thomas-Alexandre Dumas was born on a Haitian sugar plantation to a French nobleman father and slave mother. When the father returned to France, he took his then freed son along and gave him a gentleman's education. When Thomas Alexandre decided to join the military at the very lowest level, the father was incensed that his name would be attached to a private. The resulting, never-repaired rupture led Thomas Alexandre to adopt his slave mother's name, 'Dumas'.

Surviving the French Revolution, Dumas rose quickly through the ranks, gaining a reputation for valor, physical strength, moral conviction, and courageous leadership. He was revered and respected by those men serving under him. By 1796, he formed an alliance with Napoleon Bonaparte which would lead to Dumas' greatest fame and lowest despair. They fought together through the Italian and Egyptian campaigns. His great height (over 6 foot tall) and dark good looks led the Egyptians to believe he was the leader, not Napoleon. This assuredly did not sit well with Napoleon.

Dumas, having the "unique perspective of being from the highest and lowest ranks of society at the same time", was firmly committed to The Republic's principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. He soon came to feel Napoleon was more interested in self-aggrandizement than concern for his own soldiers. After a confrontation, Dumas was ordered back to France. On the way, the poorly equipped ship ran aground. Dumas was thrown into an Italian dungeon as a prisoner of war. There he languished for two years. Napoleon refused to have his name spoken in his presence. Dumas' wife eventually won his release. He returned to France a broken man.

Although novelist Alexandre Dumas was just a young boy when his father died, he was raised on stories of his meteoric rise, enormous charisma and military prowess. These form the basis of his greatest novels. To those who knew General Dumas, the fictional characters were thinly veiled depictions of the great man. Nevertheless, the victors write the history and Napoleon effectively erased his quarrelsome General from our collective consciousness.

Author Thomas Reiss goes far in repairing and resurrecting the Black Count's reputation. This is a fast moving book that kept me drawn in to the finish. One might complain that Reiss slips occasionally into hagiography, and also inserts himself too much into this otherwise engaging story. The book opens with Reiss battling with French bureaucracy and dynamiting into a sealed safe in an attempt to access some Dumas family documents and memorabilia. Overall, though, I was quite satisfied. Anyone who is a big fan of the younger Dumas' novels, or those lovers of military history will be particularly drawn to this book.
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5 vote michigantrumpet | 89 other reviews | Feb 12, 2017 |
A coven of little old ladies, with the help of a pack of wolves, a nest of bees and a freelance mailman named Taliesin, steel the Holy Grail from the descendants of the Crusaders and return it to the Goddess from whence the Christians stole it in the first place. While illuminating the pagan roots of the Christian Mythology, Leonora Carrington also admonishes the church for its historically cruel treatment of women, especially the elderly variety, as second class citizens. But more then that, Carrington, a surrealist painter and writer, manages to evoke a brilliant sense of dreaminess and real emotion, something conspicuously absent from most surrealist writings. Personally, this is one of my all time favorite books.… (more)
4 vote kkisser | 12 other reviews | Aug 27, 2006 |
While we Americans seem stymied by the hate speech which divides our country, we might well pause, take a deep breath of cool, Canadian air and heed a cue on a contentious issue from our neighbors to the north. Confronted with a daughter who had felt and dressed like a boy from early childhood, preferred sports to dolls and who at 13, wished she were a boy, Cheryl Evans and her husband crisscross their country in search of experts who can help the family solve their dilemma. After much study, prayer and consultation with their child, they all agree that sex reassignment is the best way to proceed. The book resulting from their journey into the unknown serves as a fascinating history of how this well-intentioned family, not unlike yours or mine, faced this stark diagnosis and moreover serves as a manual for anyone confronted with a similar issue. The intelligent role played by school principals. medical professionals and even the government of Ontario province further sets an example for all of tolerance, behavior toward each other and public service we should all try to emulate.

No one in this family, including their elder daughter, escapes doubt, emotional conflict and the fear of hateful judgment visited upon them by self-righteous critics acting in the name of God. Deeply religious herself, Evans read the entire Bible (it took her seven months) to see whether these pious people’s claims were really His word—and found much evidence to the contrary. She concludes that the key to understanding these sacred texts lies in their interpretation with wisdom and love.

The proof of this approach still lies ahead, but their new son was able to enter high school in a nearby, different district as a new person, has never been happier nor more successful his studies and looks forward to his third and final sex-change surgery with brave anticipation. This book is well-drafted in a brisk. readable style and should be must reading, not only for those families with a transgender child, but for all of us, so we may understand, accept and relate to such individuals in a normal, friendly and healthy way.
—Peter H. Green, co-author of Radio: One Woman’s Family in War and Pieces
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1 vote PeterHGreen | Feb 20, 2017 |
A fictional biography of Jerzy Kosinski sounded most intriguing, and Jerome Charyn's novel, JERZY, does not disappoint. In fact I found it to be a very compelling read. And it was made even more so with its various narrators, from 'Little Ian' Diggers, a literate bodyguard for Peter Sellers; to Svetlana Allilueva, Stalin's daughter who was in fact a neighbor to Kosinski in Princeton for a time; to a pornographer dominatrix who went by the name Anna Karenina; to ... well, maybe you get the idea by now. This is a story with many voices and faces, all turned toward the enigma that was Jerzy Kosinski

I read Kosinski's THE PAINTED BIRD back in the late 60s while I was still in college, and was mesmerized by its story and grotesque characters, so much so that I used it in a college English course I taught a few years later. This was decades ago, so, while I can't remember my methods in teaching the book, I do remember that my students were equally fascinated by it. It was the kind of text you couldn't spoil, not even by making it 'assigned reading.' Years later I read BEING THERE - and saw the film too, with Sellers as Chance the gardener (aka Chauncey Gardiner).

Kosinski's star flamed brightly for years, making him a dark darling of the New York literary scene - until it was tarnished and blighted by allegations of plagiarism and fraud. These accusations and scandals may have driven Kosinski to his death by suicide in 1991.

Charyn's in-depth imagining of Kosinski's personal life, from his childhood in war-torn Poland to the height of his literary fame and eventual downfall is almost as mesmerizing as that celebrated first novel of Kosinski's, THE PAINTED BIRD. He covers Kosinski's marriage to the widowed heiress, Martha Will, as well as his notorious sexual deviance and dalliances with various mistresses. His many masks are also examined. Was he Catholic or Jewish? What could actually be believed from all the fantastic stories he told about his early life? Was THE PAINTED BIRD actually written by Kosinski, or was it a product of so many ghost writers and editors that it was impossible to know its real authorship? Charyn touches too on Kosinski's other books, especially BEING THERE, and the close relationship that developed between Kosinski and Peter Sellers in the making of the film. Sellers' own childhood as a lone Jew in a boys' school gave them a mutual point of understanding.

If you were - are - a fan of Jerzy Kosinski's fiction, then I guarantee you will like JERZY. It's a book which reads like a phantasmagorical fairy tale that burnishes ever brighter the literary lights of the enigmatic writer. Very highly recommended.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER
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1 vote TimBazzett | 3 other reviews | Feb 20, 2017 |
Pheew, this was a long, a very long read for me and sometimes I wondered that I actually only read a couple of pages in what felt like ages.

The concept was fascinating enough: a teenage girl suffers from her violent stepfather and hushed stepmother. Add to that the desire to meet her real parents and a newfound home in a neglected house with some weird siblings of the same age. Top that with her ability to see ghosts. Sounds intriguing? That's what I thought as well. However, the story was suffocating with slightly magical happenings, mysterious descriptions and dream-like sequences that it seemed to take forever to finish. At about a third of the book I was severely tempted to call it quits, but in order to write a substantiated review (and hoping that the book may just have had a slow start) I kept reading.

The book 'Alice in Wonderland' was mentioned several times, but other than feeling similar to Alice 'jumping down the hole' on several occasions it did not add anything useful to the story and was not explored any further. Based on these short mentions I could not follow Rubys drastic decision to burn this book because to her it felt 'evil'. The whole half-hearted allusion to that book should have been either omitted completely or turned into a more prominent recurrent theme.

While the writing was beautiful most of the time, it did not compensate for the mostly bored state I found myself in, wishing for something to finally happen. Towards the end there was a little more action and I did like the outcome.

That and the writing style barely saved the book from getting a 1 star rating. I guess there are a lot of readers out there who love to 'get lost' in a story such as this, but I am definitely not one of them.
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1 vote misspider | 1 other review | Feb 20, 2017 |
Okay, I confess I like Carrie Fisher and always have. I like her "Postcards from the Edge" years ago. The jacket blurb will tell you about this book, but it is the same witty, sassy, irreverent, vulnerable writer writing about herself - then and now - and you need to read it, if only to understand why all that chemistry between Han and Leia was the Real Thing.
What I liked most was her poetry, remarkably good for her age (19). Paul Simon missed a bet not putting it to music while they were married.… (more)
1 vote librisissimo | 20 other reviews | Feb 19, 2017 |
Overall, this is a very good book about the Kids in the Hall, telling the story that everybody knows and supplementing or correcting it where necessary. It is written with a fan's biases, but at the same time it's not a hagiography; there is discussion about what didn't work and how the Kids' various personalities clashed over the years. The only thing that was really disappointing was that there weren't any photos. In this sort of book I expect a nice photo section in the middle to flip through before starting to read. Other than that, the writing itself is good, so it is recommended.… (more)
1 vote rabbitprincess | Feb 19, 2017 |
'Inside Every Living Person is a Dead Person Waiting to Get Out...' Death is one of my favourite Discworld characters and Reaper Man is the second book in the Death novels. I prefer reading in general Discworld reading order though. Still, whether you read these books like I do, or you choose to read them as separate novels about Rincewind, or Death, or witches and so on, you will have lots of fun.

Death gets fired. Or something like that anyway. Instead of mopping around feeling sorry for himself (according to the ones who got him fired he shouldn't have taken the he part), he starts living, making friends, being a hero, learning things he only observed before and understanding them, and so on.

Meanwhile in Ankh-Morpork, life force is growing, weird little globes are popping up all over the place and things act. Windle Poons, a hundred and thirty old wizard, dies but nobody comes to collect him. Death is not employed anymore. His colleagues try everything they can think of (including burying him in the crossroads), but nothing helps. Windle Poons is still there. He finds his way to a group of life-challenged individuals and there the adventure of his unlife starts.

The troubles in Ankh-Morpork and Death's new experiences are the two threads we follow in Reaper Man, both funny and entertaining. Pratchett's greatest strength lies in those one liners he smartly sneaks in in every single story.
I would have liked more Death though.
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1 vote Aneris | 96 other reviews | Feb 19, 2017 |
Books of Blood, Volume 1 is an entertaining six-story anthology. As usual, I didn't love every story. The last two didn't do much for me.

The Book of Blood
The dead have highways and a team of three people is at Tollington Place 65 to witness one of those turnpikes and intersections.

The Midnight Train
Kaufman's love for New York is not as strong as when he came to live there. Someone is butchering people in the subway and he is going to get in the middle of it and learn some of the city's history and its dark secrets along the way.

The Yattering Jack
My favourite story. Hilarious. Yattering Jack is a lower level demon with a seemingly easy task to drive one man crazy. However, whatever he tries 'seemed to make no dent in his perfect indifference'.

Pig Blood Blues
I hate pigs so that only added to the horror. Very disturbing story of a former police officer who got a job at a Centre for Adolescent Offenders only to realize that something is not quite right with the place.

Sex, Death and Shine
A story of one last production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. People are too busy being horrible, petty and mean to notice anything weird around them.

In the Hills, the Cities
A couple is on a trip in the Balkan hills. They are just realizing how incompatible they are and how little they have in common only to stumble upon a weirdest battle anyone has ever seen.
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1 vote Aneris | 15 other reviews | Feb 19, 2017 |
I don't like a quest. I like scientific research, creativity, non-conformist ideas. Luckily it's only the subtitle of the book that I hold a grudge against. In the book itself you'll find scientific research, creativity and non-conformist thinking. And a scientist who tells us that some of his ideas aren't science but speculation. (Well, 'predictions' my ass). All too often scientists use misplaced authority in popular science books when it comes to defending their own theories. Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at CalTech, isn't one of them, and that is laudable.

From Eternity to Here (2010) is a book about the arrow of time. What is time? The answer in a nutshell: experiencing the tendency of the universe to increase its entropy, a measure of "disorder". There we have them again. Scrambled eggs won't unscramble (although quantum mechanics tell us there's a small chance it will happen. And if you wait long enough it inevitably will happen). The milk in your coffee that won't get unmixed.
Entropy tends to stay the same or increase on a large scale. That's because there are more possible combinations of chaos than of order. If an earthquake hits your pile of books, it tends to fall over. If the books are on the ground and the second wave of earthquakes come, generally they won't pile on top of each other.
That seems to be what we perceive as time: the direction from low entropy to higher entropy. It will eventually end with everything - all matter, all fields, all of spacetime - in equilibrium, which means time will stop as well. No change, no time, ma'am.

Carroll speculates however that it won't stop there. In an equilibrium universe entropy will continue to grow by creating bubbles that are new universes. These universes start out low in entropy, and the unlimited increase can continue.
Why does Sean Carroll come up with the need for eternal increase of entropy, to the cost of a yet unfalsifiable multiverse theory? Reason is that our own universe started out in a strange, very low entropy state. And that poses problems. Not only for the development of our universe, but for the current state of our universe as well. After all, the highest chance for us is to find ourselves in such a De Sitter space. In such a space there's equilibrium without an arrow of time. Weak anthropic principle, but with a twist.

The book fills up with explanations about the usual suspects. That is: entropy, general relativity, quantum physics, string theory, black holes and event horizons, AdS/CFT . The whole cast of characters you'll find in most current books about cosmology. In that regard the book won't teach you much extra. But it is a good overview structured from another perspective: the perspective of time. As a bonus it takes you on a mind-boggling tour of possibilities. From the dimensions of infinite space to the multiverse in its many variations. A well written book with an interesting conclusion. Worth your time.

For those missing the most basic of mathematics you should read the 'math' section at the end of the book first. For those with a few years of high school math: dive right in. Follow the arrow From Eternity to Here.

In the right direction, that is.
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1 vote jeroenvandorp | 13 other reviews | Feb 19, 2017 |
Originally posted here

This is the second Jane Austen novel that I have ever read. The first being Pride and Prejudice, a book I absolutely adored. I could not help but compare Persuasion to it and I am sad to say I was a bit disappointed. I wanted something as full of wry wit and humour as Pride and Prejudice, but it's a completely different sort of story.

Anne Elliot is our heroine, on the cusp of spinsterhood at the grand old age of twenty-seven. She has deep regret of rejecting Frederick Wentworth's proposal many years ago on the advice of a deeply respected family friend. Of course circumstances ensue that bring Captain Wentworth back into her social circle, will they reconnect? That is basically the sum of the story, with a few twists and very mild shenanigans thrown in.

I'm going to be brutally honest here and say that I found the story boring, and hard to follow. I felt incredibly depressed reading this book as the themes of gender inequality and social class started to emerge. I found Mrs. Smith particularly tragic as the portrayal of a widow left penniless by the death of her husband and living as a social pariah. Reading Persuasion made me so thankful that I'm not living in the early nineteenth century, I can tell you. Unmarried or penniless widowed women were not worth much at all.

As for the 'romance' between Anne and Captain Wentworth. What romance? They barely speak to each other for the majority of the book. They exchange a couple of furtive glances whilst Anne obviously wants to say so much to him but because of social convention she just has to stay silent and hope he can miraculously read her mind. It just didn't appeal to me personally as evidenced by that fact that it took me a whole week to read which is unusual for me.

Needless to say, this is not one of my favourite Jane Austen novels so far, and I can only hope I will enjoy her others more. 
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1 vote 4everfanatical | 386 other reviews | Feb 19, 2017 |
I am very fond of these guys and they are superior to Conan or Elric, if one is looking for a good swashbuckling read. The magic is suitably unreliable, and the motives are simply immature enough to attract fans of the Jason Bourne movies. the pacing seems oddly similar. These are the first stories chronologically, with "Ill Met in Lankhmar" setting the tone for the entire canon.
1 vote DinadansFriend | 31 other reviews | Feb 18, 2017 |
A good book for those nights when there is no good swashbuckling movie to watch. The fun pairing of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser become engaged in the affairs of a pair of sorcerers as they try to build careers, or at least get by, in the beautifully corrupt city of Lankhmar and its peculiar environs. These are the middle period tales, with "Circle Curse, Jewels in the Forest, and Thieves House being stand-outs. Great fun, often reread.… (more)
1 vote DinadansFriend | 20 other reviews | Feb 18, 2017 |
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything and links at Booklikes, & Goodreads by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Tower at Stony Wood
Series: -----
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 306
Format: Kindle digital edition

Synopsis: Spoilers

A knight on a quest to free his rightful Queen. A noble on a quest to free his Kingdom. A bard on a quest to free her Sister. A mother on a quest to go back to the sea from which she came.

A story where all the storylines intersect at the oddest places and not even the characters know their true motivations.

My Thoughts:

In previous reviews of McKillip's works, I tend to liken her writing as silk; it is beguiling, sensual, sensuous and soft.

A half seen shape at night in the forest, with distant laughter and the faint tinkling of bells. You can't see it in whole, or even distinctly. When you look to your right, you catch a glimpse out of the corner of your eye to your left. When you spin around to catch it behind you, you feel it's eyes on you from the front. You don't know if it is your imagination playing tricks, an elven princess enchanting you or an evil sorcerer leading you astray. The only way to find out is to continue on. Is it a dot of honey on your lover's nose, a glob on a bear's paw or a comb in a bee's nest? What if the honeycomb is a magic sword and the bear is an an enchanted knight and your lover is a witch?

When you wrap fog, silk, honey and darkness into a tapestry of words, then you have this story, this book. And if your very soul is not moved, transported to another realm, then I pity you your grey, joyless existence that you think is life.… (more)
1 vote BookstoogeLT | 9 other reviews | Feb 18, 2017 |
Genuinely enjoyed The Razor’s Edge, though I’m having trouble articulating why. Seriously, I’m not even sure what compelled me to pick this up, as I normally avoid books about “the meaning of life” like Russian athletes avoiding a drug test. I suppose the truth is that I’d never read anything by Maugham and I got to wondering what, if anything, I might be missing. Am glad I did.

Admit I’m still on the fence about Maugham’s decision to narrate the story through the eyes of an unbiased spectator – the author himself, thinly disguised as an independent “man of the world” who just happens to be acquainted with the principle parties and present at a handful of key events. The effect is to create a sort of chasm of disinterest between the characters and the readers that, for me, required an effort to breach. Yet I’m glad I stuck it out, because these characters turn out to be worth getting to know.

The plot (such as it is) revolves around a young, likable American lad, Larry Darrell, who returns from WWI a changed man. Not necessary traumatized, but definitely determined to reconsider his priorities. Toward this end, he shrugs off his Plan A – a safe, highly lucrative job at a stockbrokers office plus marriage to a charming, wealthy girl who genuinely loves him – and wanders off in search of an answer to the question “what makes life meaningful?”, a quest that whisks him from Parisian reading rooms to Welsh coal mines, from German monasteries to Indian temples, before finally landing back upon the vast, anonymous plains of America.

Meanwhile, however, he’s left in his wake a whole cast of characters who lack either the will or courage to liberate themselves from the shallow lives they have chosen for themselves. There’s Elliott Templeton, the arch-socialite, seeking fulfillment through the superficial pageantry of society and religion. Isabel Bradley, Larry’s ex-fiancé, pursuing fullfilment through a marriage that seems to guarantee social and economic security. And poor Sophie, a childhood friend, who (upon the death of her beloved husband) dedicates herself to deliberate, gleeful self-destruction.

While Larry eventually does achieve enlightenment, even becoming a saint of sorts (he gains the ability to cure people, maybe even save them), Maugham’s other characters are left to live out the rest of their flawed lives without redemption. Each is given an opportunity to repent of their shallow ways (Elliott is briefly permitted to see how little his life of toadying has actually won him in terms of regard; Isabel is afforded the opportunity to leave Gray and follow her heart instead of a checkbook; Sophie is given the chance to escape her path towards self-destruction by marrying Larry), but none of them avail themselves of the opportunities.

And so I am left, again, to wonder what it was that kept me reading on. Perhaps Maugham’s gift for creating appealingly likable characters whose flaws are as organic as their virtues? Perhaps the grace Maugham demonstrates in allowing these characters to retain their dignity, resisting the urge to turn them into pathetic grotesques? (In this way, the novel reminds me a little of The Great Gatsby.) Perhaps the fun of jet-setting around 1930s Europe at the author’s side, visiting along the way many of Europe’s most glamourous destinations? Perhaps the way Maugham manages to discuss enormous, important themes like love, sacrifice, religion, and life without waxing pedantic? Perhaps because the book provided an intriguing new lens through which to reflect upon some of my own actions and choices? Perhaps a combination of all of the above?

I don’t imagine this is everyone’s cup of tea, and I totally understand that. But for those readers out there who appreciate refreshingly good writing and aren’t daunted by important themes, I strongly recommend The Razor’s Edge as well worth the time it takes to read … and then all the time you’ll spend afterwards, thinking about it.
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1 vote Dorritt | 78 other reviews | Feb 18, 2017 |
A powerful opening to a new creator-owned series by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott.

It's hardly a surprise to any comics nerd that Greg Rucka can write a mean graphic mystery; his work on a variety of Batman & Batwoman titles has clearly demonstrated his strength in the realm of comic noir. With Black Magick, Rucka is unfettered by a pre-existing comics universe and paired with the remarkable Nicola Scott to create a compelling, intriguing story. I, for one, will definitely be picking up the second trade paperback as soon as it becomes available.

Scott's art is very strong, photo-realistic, with a dark & brooding feel that is a perfect match for the story's tone. The sparing use of color makes its appearance that much more powerful as an indicator that powerful magics are being performed. The art & writing together create a powerful female protagonist, Rowan Black, without falling into the common graphic troph of the sexual object. In the one scene where an armed hostage taker requires Black to strip to her underwear, the resulting image steers well clear of pin-up material; Black's body is obviously a deadly weapon, not a titillation.

I would recommend this title for all public & academic libraries with strong graphic novel collections, as well as high school libraries looking to expand their collections beyond the Marvel/DC universes. (Libraries with stricter collection development policies should be aware that the book contains 5 pages of completely appropriate non-sexual nudity and a few entirely justifiable curse-words.)
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1 vote TeenCentral | 2 other reviews | Feb 18, 2017 |

Recent Firsts

"First" are first reviews for previously-unreviewed works.

Severely disappointing. For a book meant to be an introduction to globalization, Steger sure loves putting his own thoughts and opinions alongside the actual facts. It really loses direction in the last two chapters and never recovers. Steger's arrogant tone makes it hard to want to read anything else by him. The fact that he includes one of his own books in the reference section really rubs me the wrong way. Not so much a very short introduction as a very short diatribe.… (more)
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
Summary: This books features screen shots from the Disney movie with basic text that can appeal to young readers. It focuses on the colors that are present in each scene and hints a bit at the plot of the original story. Rapunzel is locked in a tower but wants to explore to see more colors. She is surprised and excited at everything she comes across, including bright lanterns and grey bunnies.
  Rightmeier2194 | Feb 20, 2017 |
The Excalibur episode played out better in the anime, imho. Other than that, another solid volume of Soul Eater.
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
Another great volume, half comedy and half action scenes. The written exam is actually funnier here than in the anime. Needs more Crona!
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
Thought-provoking, provocative (Garnett begins by drawing explicit parallels between the Norman Conquest and modern-day attempts at "regime change"), and emphatically not a good fit for the "Very Short Introduction" series. There's no way I could assign this to a class of American first year college students most of whom have never heard of Hastings or 1066 (which was why I was checking it out) without them being rather bewildered. Garnett presumes a certain familiarity with English history, and even with at least the vague outlines of bigger historiographical disputes about the Conquest and its aftermath. The Harrying of the North, for instance, barely gets a look in.

The broad sweep of Garnett's argument—about the all-encompassing and successful nature of the Norman Conquest of England—would make for stimulating fodder for an upper-level undergrad discussion, but only if careful attention was paid to the ways in which Garnett avoids or glosses over some evidence which doesn't bolster his argument. It's possible that the abbreviated VSI format meant that he didn't have the space to address these issues, or to deal more overtly with opposing academic points of view, but they are frustrating lapses nonetheless. An engaging book, but flawed.
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  siriaeve | Feb 20, 2017 |
Originally posted here at Anime Radius.

For the past eight volumes, Shugo Chara! has been stressing to its readers that the inner heart is what matters and that a person's strength will overcome any obstacle - and they have managed to keep emphasizing these healthy goals without blowing them out of proportion or sounding like an after school program. These issues have been best showcased in our heroine of the series, Amu Hinamori, who started out as someone with low self-esteem who tried to match her outwardly cheerful persona with the painfully awkward person that lay inside herself, who has for lack of a more appropos term transformed into someone who is confident and strong and able to stand up with the other Guardians on equal ground - and in volume nine, we see Amu's journey to become a better person reach its cresting point with the unlocking of the Humpty Lock via the Dumpty Key and why she was chosen to be a Guardian in the first place.

Another person besides Amu who is rising to the challenge of character development is Yaya Yuiki, the Ace Chair and youngest member of the Guardians. Once seen as pretty much the crybaby immature member of the team, Yaya comes into her own during the fight against the - err - evil possessed dog. Let us not dwell too long over the fact that a dog, even if possessed by the power of an X Egg, could easily beat up so many magic-using Guardians before Yaya and Utau work together, or we'll start to wonder why Peach-Pit couldn't have come up with a more convincing mini-boss for Yaya to beat. Still, seeing Yaya stand up to protect her friends with her own magic and proving that even little kids can sometimes take on burdens further highlights the importance of inner strength in people - and also adds a much needed element of humor to the events leading up to the Ikuto/Tadase/Amu fight at the top. Seeing Tadase and Ikuto battle it out is the near-height of action in the ninth volume until the sudden plot twist at the end, and it will certainly not disappoint anyone interested in seeing them fight and how their respective abilities clash. Add to that all the new insight into the Hoshina family and any Ikuto fan would be hard pressed not to love this latest volume.

As usual, Peach-Pit brings their usual art style to the world of Shugo Chara!, improving upon the usual tropish hallmarks of magical girl manga with flashy fight scenes and cool fashion, especially when it comes to the numerous Character Transformations - like Amu's final CT thanks to the lock-and-key combination. With the reveal of the Embryo and its inevitable capture (which felt slightly underwhelming in context, given how flashy everything else was), it's clear that Shugo Chara! is gearing up for the big finale - the Guardians versus Easter Corporation, with the literal hearts and minds of the people of the world at stake. Can Peach-Pit possibly wrap everything up in the next two volumes in a way that will please all of their fans? Possibly, although knowing PP it won't really be the end (they have a history of continuing series in separate 'sequel' series', as they did with Rozen Maiden). Still, for a series on the edge of ending, volume nine has all the action and intrigue of its predecessors that it will leave readers looking forward to the release of volume ten early next year - and I think it will be worth the wait.
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
A solid intro to the concept of geopolitics and its relevancy in the 21st century; carries with it a very heavy left-wing bias that might throw off some readers. A lot of great examples and even includes a list of further reading material; I only wish the conclusion was a bit more solid and not so sudden, like Dodds had simply ran out of steam.
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
This book can give kids the information about staff match with their responsible color. Kids can learn what is the color. It's good for kinder garden readers to read.
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  CNKE94297 | Feb 18, 2017 |
Originally posted here at Yaoi Radius.

In a liberal arts college tucked away in the nondescript Mideast, there is a sweet little love story brewing between two unlikely people: a football coach and ladies' man who thinks himself very very straight and an openly gay chaplain who is emotionally closeted when it comes to new relationships. There's no clear-cut villain, no central figure our main protagonists need to cut down Scott Pilgrim-style in order to realize their love for each other, but there's plenty of drama and excitement and conflict for everyone involved. Plus, the emotional rollercoaster between Chip and Foster isn't the only story going on in Simple Men; there's also the side plot of football playing students Brad and Jason, who are slowly realizing their friendship might be something more after being dared to kiss under the water in the men's shower room. There's lots of male/male romance with some male/female and even implied female/female on the side, so you'd be hard pressed to find at least one couple you don't like in the entire book.

As for the setting of the book itself - the Verona College - for a religious college, it seems terribly accepting of homosexuals, even hiring an openly gay chaplain. This is not to say that religious automatically equals homophobic, but the fact that none of the staff have any serious hang-ups over Foster is a little unreal in this genre. What animosity there is at his relationship with Chip is more directed at Chip for being . . . well, Chip. There are some people in town not cool with the fact that Chip is in love with another man, including some of his past one night stands, as well as the usual machismo neuroses in the male-dominated sports sphere over Jason and Brad's romantic developments - but beyond that, the majority of the story's drama is due to the relationships themselves, not to outside forces trying to bring them down (a very common plot device in male/male romance novels). So yes, Simple Men could probably comfortably fit inside the genre of 'gaytopia fiction', in which the characters have nothing or very little to fear about their LGBT identities from homophobic surroundings, but if you enjoy your male/male stories rife with the chosen couple fighting the abominable queer-hating intolerant right, you may leave this book wanting more.

This is not to say that Simple Men disappoints, because it does not. It takes a smart look at the fluidity of sexuality through Chip's character and his newfound attraction to Foster, as well as the fickleness of relationships and how they can both harm and help us - from Chip's recent failure of a romance with his girlfriend to Foster's reluctance to enter any new relations since being cheated on by his last lover and finding out about it in the worst way possible. There's also plenty of humor to temper all the histrionics, especially when it involves Brad and Jason or Katie riding around campus in her golf cart. It's a fun, light read that is only two hundred pages and definitely worth the price tag for the paperback (it also helps that the cover image itself is pretty easy on the eyes), so if you are looking for a romance between two grown men trying to balance their love lives and careers as well as two young men discovering their own mutual affections in a college setting, you can't go wrong with the story of Simple Men.
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
A simply 'okay' collection of stories from the same manga-ka behind Fruits Basket, which is probably why I was expecting more. Some of the stories had wonky art that I hadn't seen since really early Furuba/Phantom Dream; the art in "Ding Dong" didn't even look like her style, but like something out of a Tomoko Taniguchi shoujo story. The Tsubasa related story did nothing for me as I haven't read that series yet, and this side story doesn't exactly convince me to otherwise. The two strongest stories are the title story and "Double Flower".… (more)
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
More of a 3.5 than a 3, but not enough to round it up. Masaru was great, Kurono-san was actually sympathetic for once, and a few things are starting to get cleared up about the Gantz system. Over than that, not a lot happened worth talking about, thus the score.
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
A good book filled with a lot of quality tips, although it assumes the student is going to be living in a dorm and attending a college out of state or at least out of their hometown. Kind of leaves students who commute to college from home or are still in-town a little in the lurch with some of his suggestions. Still a great book for students looking for some guidance when either about to enter college or having been a college student for a while.… (more)
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
In the second volume of Itazura na Kiss (イタズラなKiss/Mischievous Kiss), college life is upon our wayward couple Kotoko and Naoki, who find themselves attending the same college through a set of extraordinary circumstances - along with several members of Class F, including the culinary-inclined Kin-chan, who is still convinced he can sway Kotoko's affections away from the cool but arrogant Naoki. That's gonna be hard, since Kotoko finds herself drawn more and more to Naoki, especially after he kisses her! What is Naoki trying to do with Kotoko's heart? Does he really care about her? As if college life isn't hard enough with competing with other women for Naoki's attention and surviving brutal tennis training matches, Kotoko finds out she might not be living under the same roof as Naoki anymore! It might take some intervention of a womanly order to keep Kotoko and Naoki together - and Mrs. Irie just may be the person to do it.

I'm still a little astonished at the speed this series has taken in transitioning from high school to college life, having its main cast of teenagers graduate and enter higher education in the span of only 400 pages - most shoujo series never show their cast beyond senior year. As if realizing it was progressing a little too fast, Itazura na Kiss is taking it nice and easy with Kotoko's freshman year in uni, highlighting her highs and lows in both her curricular activities and her attempts at sparking some kind of relationship between herself and Naoki. Plus, we finally get to see some rivalry for Naoki's attention - between Kotoko and the snobby intelligent Yuko Matsumoto, who initially seems like a better fit for Naoki than Kotoko. Or is she? Then there is Kin, who has managed to weasel his way into the uni by way of becoming campus cook, which means daily interactions with Kotoko (who still has zero romantic interest in him, poor guy).

There's a lot of tennis action in this volume as Kotoko accidentally follows Naoki into joining the college's tennis club, despite her only experience with tennis being a fan of the classic manga Aim For The Ace! and reenacting scenes from it with her racket. She has no chance of being even a mildly decent tennis player - until Naoki is forced to play a doubles match with Kotoko as his partner, and in his irritation has to train her to become better. If you thought Kotoko's school trainer was crazy, Naoki is much much tougher! The scenes between Kotoko and Naoki during their training lessons are pretty interesting, as are the ones where they manage to take class together. Despite being in uni, it seems that most of Class F has reunited in the Japanese Lit class, which has been labeled by the general student body as "the college version of Class F" - ouch! It's a good idea by Tada to keep most of the core cast and move them from high school to college - it keeps readers' interest in the characters they know already while minimizing the risk when new characters are introduced as they always are when the setting goes through a major shift - characers like Sudo-sempai and Yuko.

These series of mix-ups and changes in Kotoko's already hectic life makes the series interesting - and makes me root for Kotoko/Naoki even more. Even if they aren't the same level of intelligence, who cares? It shouldn't even matter if Kotoko is from Class F or Class A; love is about two people, not two people's intellects. Naoki and Kotoko may spend a good deal of time arguing but they also work well together and have personalities that mix and match very well. As their relationship progresses, the series just gets better. If you aren't excited about Itazura na Kiss, get excited! This just might be the must have shoujo release of 2010.
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
Reds must certainly be the most detailed history ever written of communist espionage in the United States and the country's legal and political responses to it. This six-hundred page book covers the topic from the military intervention of the US and allies against the Bolsheviks following WWI to the actions (largely illegal) of the FBI against civil rights and anti-war protests of the 1960's culminating in the false narratives about "Weapons of Mass Destruction" that led to the Iraq war. The author relies quite a bit on the recently declassified "Venona" files -- decoded messages from Soviet agents to and from Moscow during the era. The title's sub-heading is "McCarthyism in Twentieth Century America". While the book certainly gives a complete and fascinating look and the rise and fall of McCarthy, the story covers all the history of Soviet espionage including infiltration of the labor movement, the use of "front" organizations, spy rings passing along atomic secrets and much more.

There are several takeaways from Morgan's work. The Soviets did achieve considerable penetration of American institutions, particularly in the 1930's and 40's. Many labor unions were communist controlled and there was much interest in communism in universities and the arts. There were, in fact, spies in high positions of government who actively collaborated with Russian intelligence. Alger Hiss was unquestionably in the service of the Soviets as were other officials, some quite close to the seats of power, i.e. Roosevelt, Acheson, et. al. The Rosenberg's were fully engaged in seeking and passing along atomic secrets, though the death sentences for them (especially Ethel) were out-of-proportion to the penalties given to others. It also seems that the impact of espionage was fairly limited, except in the case of atomic secrets. Nonetheless, one is struck by the extent of sympathy for communism especially in light of the rigidity of Moscow toward its American adherents and the depredations inflicted by Stalin that were known from the late 30's on. The intellectual currents that gave rise to the attraction of communism are not given much attention in this work.

The reactions to communist activity in America followed two lines, both of which were excessive in their application but nonetheless quite effective. Both lines of response betrayed core American ideals of justice (due process) and fairness. The Smith Act made it a crime to advocate violent overthrow of the government and, perhaps more significantly, was accompanied by a requirement of loyalty oaths for all manner of public employment. While relatively few persons, given the vast numbers of people reviewed, were actually disqualified the chilling impact of this draconian measure was devastating, especially to persons who in years past had naively dabbled with leftist organizations. Beyond its "witch hunt" aspect, the Smith Act very effectively brought about the demise of the Communist Party USA. From its zenith in the 30's the party through the persecution of criminal authorities had become a shadow of itself by the 1950's.

The second line of attack against Reds was political. Very early on, the House Un-American Affairs Committee (HUAC) pursued leftists by publicly exposing them in hearings. While to a great degree effective this method was grossly unfair, often exposing people to their ruin for activities that occurred many years past and that had resulted in no danger to the country. Occasionally the work of the committee did produce actual spies, such as Hiss, who were prosecuted and jailed for contempt or perjury. The book gives attention to the committee's campaign against Hollywood in the 1940's and 50's. I found the author's treatment of this odious public shaming somewhat odd. He correctly asserts that the writers and actors dragged before the committee made things worse for themselves by their overly histrionic resistance, but he misses the point that the committee's aim was not to punish them legally (except where perjury could be suborned) but to ruin them for their associations. The committee made a spectacle of browbeating well-known personages to openly "name names" when, in fact, the connections to communist organizations of those to be publicly revealed was already known. The author concludes sensibly that the influence that writers, film makers and actors could have had on spreading the communist's gospel was, in any real sense, very minimal.

The story of McCarthy's rise and fall is quite riveting, a Shakespearian tragedy to be sure. McCarthy was hugely ambitious and motivated overwhelmingly by an insatiable need for self-advancement. (The author covers his early career as a district judge where McCarthy showed considerable compassion for those appearing before his court. He also details McCarthy's strange attack on the prosecution of war criminals for the infamous Malmadey massacre.) McCarthy latched on to the growing pubic paranoia about communist infiltration emerging in the late 40's and 50's, heightened by the Soviet's acquisition of the atomic bomb and the invasion of South Korea in 1950. His approach was to make wild claims of communists under every bed and to savagely attack anyone, including his Senate colleagues, who opposed his methods. His viciousness has few parallels in modern times. Morgan goes into extensive and fascinating detail about McCarthy's moment in the sun. What is equally interesting is how in view of his outrageous behavior he was able to intimidate into silence those who were repulsed by his tactics and behavior. It really was his own self-destructiveness culminating in the Army-McCarthy hearings that led to his collapse. Certainly the national near hysteria about the perceived threat of the Soviet Union that supplied the electricity that he exploited. And, a most interesting element of McCarthy's war on communists in government is that by the time of his hearing the actual communist spy apparatus was almost entirely defunct, done in by the Smith Act and judicial prosecution of communists. The national attention drawn by his pursuit of a communist Army dentist and low-level clerical workers affirms the national extreme fear of the Soviet Union.

Morgan devotes considerable space to the history of the FBI's involvement in rooting out and countering espionage rings and leftist "fellow travelers" of the communist movement. J. Edgar Hoover became obsessed with the danger he felt Reds presented to the country. Beyond pursuing actual spies, this led to his determination that the civil rights movement and, later, the student protest movement, were communist driven. Hoover, like McCarthy, was riding on the wave of fear and revulsion of the Soviet Union and this enabled him to stay influential with presidents and leading legislators for decades. It also led to overtly illegal counterintelligence tactics against purported opponents that are a blot on our history.

The author concludes with an analysis of how this anti-Red mania led to Nixon's sanction for illegal actions against those who opposed his policies. In fact, it was Nixon's disdain for the FBI's reluctance to go along that produced the notorious "plumbers" outfit that ultimately brought about Nixon's fall. Ending his story in mid-2003, Morgan delves into the manipulation of truth by the Bush administration that turned the horror of the 9/11 attacks into the non sequitur of the Iraq war.

This is a very long read, but well worth the time. Although one might not agree on every conclusion drawn, the history is exhaustively well-researched and his treatment of the events and players admirably well-balanced.
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  stevesmits | Feb 18, 2017 |
Originally posted here at Anime Radius.

There is something about Itazura Na Kiss that always draws me back to the series with eager anticipation for the next volume. Perhaps it's the lovely clashes and moments between our heroine, the ditzy but strong-willed and determined Kotoko and the cooly aloof but secretly sweet Naoki - a true romance of contrasts. Or maybe it's the non-stop antics and crazy humor that Tada injects into every scene, humor that is overly abundant in this volume - see such scenes as Naoki and Yuko's failed date, the arrival of Kotoko's new romantic rival, and Kin-chan's attempts to 'rescue' Kotoko from Naoki while running through a terrible blizzard as just a few examples. No, it's all that and more - this is a shoujo series with heart. It draws you in with an unlikely pairing and slowly unfolds the two of them drawing closer to each other through their own efforts as well as the invisible hand that controls the circumstances of all shoujo manga. If you're not hooked at this point, volume three will be the volume to do it.

In this volume of Itazura Na Kiss, there's tons of things for Kotoko/Naoki fans to look forward to. Even as events seem to be gradually pulling them apart, they always seem to end up together in the end, whether it is at the school festival or during a blizzard that leaves the both of them snowed in at Naoki's new home. For the Kin-chan fans (there's gotta be some out there!) there are plenty of scenes of the strange Kin-chan doing his best to try and catch Kotoko's eye in any way possible. And then there is the university's anime club who have adopted Kotoko as their tennis superstar for their new animated project - a project that ends up being a wonderful homage to the sports and mahou shoujo genre anime from the seventies. It's a volume full of major events for everyone involved and contains stories both humorous and sweet. If you have been loving the slowly-advancing romance between Kotoko and Naoki like I have, you will certainly love this latest volume of INK - and be wondering when the next one is coming out! As Tada slowly advances the relationship between the two of them with both difficult scenarios and moments of good fortune, readers will be constantly looking forward to the day Naoki realizes his own feelings for Kotoko and tells her - although knowing Naoki, it probably won't be unless Kotoko can average above a 60 on her exams!
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
Ah, Eiki Eiki and Taishi Zaou: two great tastes that go good together. English language manga readers know Eiki Eiki as the manga-ka behind Dear Myself and Princess Princess (also an anime) while Taishi Zaou is known as the manga-ka behind Green Light and The Day of Revolution. When they come together in one work, we get Color, a tour de force of romance, humor, and drama packed into one volume. Do me a favor and get it now.

You can read my full review of the yaoi manga COLOR at my manga review blog, Nagareboshi Reviews: http://nagareboshi-reviews.blogspot.com/
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
This series = still flippin' amazing. I don't understand how anyone could dislike it, or at least I don't want to know. Sorry Eden's story can't be as shallow as your typical Weekly Shonen Jump feature, I guess? (And this is from someone who greatly loves her some WSJ manga.)
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
This book tells us what life was like for 16 children living at different times in history. I will use this book in my teaching because we can learn about the history of the world. This book is so interesting and suitable for fifth grade and up.
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  LinWang | Feb 20, 2017 |
Nope, still one of the best manga series currently being released in English. Yup. I love it. I love the politics, the science, the character arcs, the plot lines, the action, the screwed-up relationships, Elijah's face, the fact that sex workers aren't dehumanized, the awesome future tech, the dark humor, everything. There's also a lot of great artwork in this volume. And naked people (just saying).… (more)
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
Good lord, and here I thought the Gantz manga could not possibly get any more violent, any more bloody, or any more terrifying. WRONG. I actually feel bad for Kurono; this really truly sucks like no other moment in Gantz so far. Plus, I think we've all learned a valuable lesson: when you hunt an alien, you make sure you kill ALL of them. I'm sure Kurono won't forget that any time soon. Yikes. This series is really doing its best to earn its 'parental advisory' sticker!… (more)
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
God damn, I was actually considering dropping this series - it's not one I read regularly and my local bookstore doesn't carry it - but this fourth omnibus changed my mind. especially with that ending. DANG IT, TADA KAORU. Seriously, the last chapter in this volume makes up for all the stupid shit Tada has been throwing at this series intermittently since the beginning. Hopefully the next volume carries through on this one's final two pages.… (more)
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
A much better volume than the first but still the same rating. At least it has managed to break away somewhat from Ueda's other series Peach Girl with its shift in focus to the girl's family and past issues while the sister drama takes a temporary back sear. The ending has me hopeful for a favorable endgame pairing - or it could be Ueda trolling again so who the hell knows.
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
Two of Hearts is a slow-moving romance that takes as many steps forward as it does back, but it ends up in a satisfying, endearing relationship. Despite some snags in the second half and a bit of bad play by Haruya's editor, Two Of Hearts remains a wholly decent and entertaining boys' love drama that has me intrigued in Kano Miyamoto's other stories in English.

You can read my full review of Miyamoto's manga at my anime/manga review blog: http://nagareboshi-reviews.blogspot.com/… (more)
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
First off, despite the title of the book, a good 1/4th of the illustrations inside are not Full Moon; a good number of those are Time Stranger Kyoko related. Still, the illustrations that have been included in this collection are bloody gorgeous, as is the standard for Tanemura’s works. Even if you don’t like her stories, you have to admit her artwork is above the par for her field. Several of her color spreads literally took my breath away at first glimpse.

You can read the rest of my review of this artbook at Nagareboshi Reviews!
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
Wow, what an obnoxious volume! The twin drama has gotten utterly ridiculous, although good on the counselor for finally seeing through it. Even if it did take a long time to notice the obvious switch. Geez, and to think he's so observant otherwise. A whole lot of melodrama and little actual plot advancement.
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
Originally posted here at Yaoi Radius.

A love crazy lesbian in an all girls’ Catholic school! A rich crossdressing sadistic boy as her room mate! The bag possessed by demons who follows the lesbian schoolgirl around! A school full of oddball young women in the pursuit of an education! Even though not all of its core concepts are original, there’s something about the whole of its parts that makes Maria†Holic such a quirky read. In its first volume, Maria†Holic set the stage for all the main characters and the conflicts that would drive the series’ plot. Now that it’s hit the second volume, it’s time to expand on the hints of things seen in its premiere chapters and answer a very important question: so what’s the deal with Mariya anyway? Why is he dressing like a girl? Why can’t Kanako manage to get a girlfriend in an all girls’ school – no, that’s pretty self-evident.

I’ve seen several comments on the Maria†Holic series that questions whether it is a yuri or not, but for the purposes of Yaoi Radius I will label it as one. It is certainly a very yuri-filled series when you have a girl like Kanako at the center, and I think a lot of people are grateful for her being the main protag and not Mariya. I love tsunderes as much as the next otaku, but Mariya is the bratty and demonic kind of tsundere I hate, full stop. Mariya’s constant abuse of Kanako, as well as his usage of ‘lesbian’ as a blatant insult against the girl grates on my nerves and is not endearing in the least. Mariya might have some more redeeming qualities further in the series, maybe a little transformation of character that makes him less of a brat, but right now I can’t imagine him ever becoming the sort you could easily warm to, unless tyrannical tsunderes are your kink of choice, in which case you will love Mariya.

Nevertheless, all the girl loving girl action in this series will certainly sate the yuri fans in the readership. Kanako is our guide to the zany everyday life of Ame no Kisaki – and more specifically, its lady students. I would certainly not label Kanako a pervert – she is simply an average modern day lesbian teenager, hormones all out of whack, looking for true love at a young age, having fantasies about the women she idolizes like a typical teenager would. Some readers might find Kanako’s antics a little off-putting, but I personally do not. She’s acting like any typical girl her age would, the only difference being Kanako is a lesbian and most manga seem hesitant to portray their LGBT characters as being sexually investigative without turning them into blushing virgins or raging perverts, and this characterization is a welcome sight in a series like Maria†Holic.

Another welcome sight in Maria†Holic is the character development of the supporting cast, aka girls that aren’t Mariya or Kanako or even Mariya’s maid cohort Matsurika (who is on the cover, meaning the MAIN CHARACTER has to wait until book three or four to actually be on the cover of her own series). The eleventh chapter of the series is a welcome look into the relationship between the more quiet Yuzuru and the genki girl Sachi. I suspect since I absolutely loathe the idea of Kanako/Mariya that Yuzuru/Sachi will be my personal OTP of the series. Gosh, how can you not love a pretty girl in archery uniform? I truly hope the whole cast get their own chapters that explore their characters and histories – as entertaining as Kanako is, I don’t think she can carry the series alone around characters with less depth.

Overall, this book is a solid addition to the ongoing Maria†Holic series, a mixture of drama and humor and all the crazy things that make it what it is. I would wish for less bashing of Kanako’s sexuality and perhaps a better reason to like Mariya, but I can see promise of greater things on the horizon. Just not, you know, Kanako getting a girlfriend. Maybe if she was less of an off-kilter klutz, you know? Maybe one day she’ll run into Himeko from Kannazuki no Miko, I think the two of them could really hit it off. Compared to the stuff going on in Ame no Kisaki, crazier things have happened!
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
A clear and concise call to action that is just as relevant now as it was in 2007. Also contains excerpts from his book, An Inconvenient Truth. It highlights an important issue that should be at the forefront of global action and needs resolution before it is too late: the future of our planet. An excellent must-read for people who want to take their first steps into becoming activists for the environment and halting the horrific effects of climate change.… (more)
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
There are a lot of gorgeous, detailed prints in this book, which is why I tried to go through it slower than usual. This is an art book I wouldn't mind owning and keeping in my personal collection - unfortunately, I'm reading a library copy!
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
Check out a free preview of a story from Further Adventures in the Restless Universe in our Bookslinger app!
  ConsortiumLibrary | Feb 20, 2017 |
Gorgeous art! Plotty stuff! Cameo by Count D! So pretty much another typically awesome volume of GnS; now to wait for Tokyopop to put out the next book (although judging by the release schedule so far, we'll only get one volume of it for 2011, sigh).
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  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
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