Weekly Reading

Jul. 20th, 2017 07:44 pm
torachan: charlotte from bad machinery saying "oh the mysteries of the moth farm" (oh the mysteries of the moth farm)
[personal profile] torachan
What are you currently reading?
I'm still reading both Miss Peregrin's Home for Peculiar Children and The History of Forgetting: Los Angeles and the Erasure of Memory. I'm about 3/4 of the way done with Miss Peregrine's and a third of the way done with History of Forgetting. I've actually been picking up the latter more often this week, but it's just slower going in general.

What did you recently finish reading?
I finally finished the final volume of Y: The Last Man. Overall, I enjoyed the series, though it's not something I'd read again. And I was pretty bummed by spoilers ).

I read volume one of Giant Days by John Allison, a cute slice-of-life comic about three girls at university. I've read a bit of his webcomic Bad Machinery (that's where this icon is from) but got frustrated with webcomics and stopped reading all the ones I was following, so I never read the whole thing.

Sawtelle: West Los Angeles's Japantown turned out to be a much quicker read than I was expecting when I ordered it, as I didn't realize how little text there was to go along with the pictures (one full page of text at the start of each of the five chapters, plus captions on the photos). I enjoyed this as a look at local history, but it really made me want to read something more in-depth.

I also finished up Ella of All-of-a-Kind Family. I was worried it was going to focus entirely on Ella based on the title, but while there was more focus on her than there had been in past books, there were still chapters about other family members as well.

What do you think you'll read next?
I still have not actually started Are You My Mother?, and I also picked up another library book on Monday, too. We saw the preview for the upcoming Wrinkle in Time movie and that made me want to reread the book. I think I read it more than once as a kid, but it's probably been like thirty years or more, so I remember virtually nothing about it.

The Four Immigrants Musical

Jul. 21st, 2017 02:14 am
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Posted by Katherine Dacey

In 1931, Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama published the Four Immigrants Manga, a collection of comic strips that offered readers a unique window into the lives of four Japanese immigrants living in San Francisco in the early 1900s. Stonebridge Press rescued Kiyama’s work from obscurity in 1998 with a beautiful new edition that was translated by Frederik Schodt, and while it’s never been a mainstream hit, it has enjoyed a stellar reputation among critics. Playwright Min Kahng recently adapted Kiyama’s work into a musical that’s garnering rapturous reviews from Bay Area newspapers. Lily Janiak, the San Francisco Chronicle‘s theater critic, praises Kahng’s efforts to bridge the gap between page and stage with imaginative sets, music, and choreography. “To Kahng’s swashbuckling, jazzy score, played by a six-person live band, Dottie Lester-White’s choreography reveals the immigrant characters as the true engine of American might,” Janiak argues, continuing:

Arms churn and piston. Heels click jauntily… But perhaps most magical is the panoply of ways Martinson incorporates Kiyama’s artwork. She doesn’t simply parade static panels across the stage for performers to act in front of. They can reach in and grab props, cut-outs with thick outlines that might have been drawn by a giant felt-tip marker, and the panels might reach back. Projections, by Katherine Freer, swoop images in from different directions, moving along with the characters and creating the feel of a flip book.

Janiak’s sentiments are echoed by San Francisco Examiner critic Jean Schiffman, who praises “Leslie Martinson’s strong and sensitive direction” and Kahng’s “affecting second act.” “By the time the loneliest of the foursome send for picture brides from Japan,” Schifmann observes, “the struggles of the slowly maturing characters, set against the social and political backdrop of the era, has become truly involving, and touching.” Here’s a peek at TheatreWorks’ production:

For more information about performances, visit the TheatreWorks website; for more information about The Four Immigrants Manga, visit Frederik Schodt’s website. Let’s hope the positive buzz leads to performances in other cities!

MANGA, ANIME AND JAPANESE POP CULTURAL NEWS

Shelby Long posts an in-depth analysis of volumes 37-38 of Skip Beat! “While Skip Beat!’s switching to Saena’s point of view is memorable for a number of reasons, (including that it’s the first time an adult woman is telling a story),” Long explains, “I regard it as being especially important because it frees Saena from the caricature of being ‘just’ Kyoko’s mom. It explores motivations for Saena’s undiluted hatred for motherhood – a take on motherhood that all too often gets played down or marginalized in media.” [Black Girl Nerds]

And speaking of manga moms, Jocelyn Allen sings the praises of Aoi Ikebe’s short-story collection Nee, Mama. “Ikebe doesn’t focus on the usual notions of motherhood and family,” she argues. “And more than her gentle lines and quiet pages, it’s this that I love about Ikebe. Her characters seek connections with each other, they struggle to find themselves and their place. And they don’t always manage it perfectly. But they reach out to each other. And sometimes, that’s enough.” [Brain vs. Book]

As One Piece turns 20, Brigid Alverson asks manga bloggers Jason Thompson, Deb Aoki, David Brothers, and yours truly why Eiichiro Oda’s long-running series is the most popular comic in the world right now. [B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog]

The June 2017 Diamond Direct Graphic Novel sales figures are in. [ICv2]

Martin de la Iglesia highlights three anime-to-manga adaptations worth reading. [The 650-Cent Plague]

IndieWire assembles an all-star team of television critics to discuss their favorite comic book adaptations. And while many of the answers are predictable — Batman, Supergirl, Preacher, and Jessica Jones all got nods — InuYasha made the cut as well. [IndieWire]

Help the Anime Feminist team choose their next manga read-along project! Before clicking over to the discussion thread, keep in mind that there are two criteria for a read-along title: first, “that the manga are available to legally buy in English,” and second, that they “lend themselves to interesting feminist discussion.” [Anime Feminist]

This sounds too good to be true: Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir will participate in a panel discussion of Yuri on Ice!! at the Crunchyroll Expo in August. [Anime News Network]

Serdar Yegulalp profiles Ghost in the Shell heroine Motoko Kusanagi. [Ganriki]

Agent Dale Cooper prepared a Twin Peaks-themed bento box on Japanese TV. [io9]

Move over, Hello Kitty — there’s a new Sanrio character in town. Her name is Aggretsuko, and she’s a “white-collar red panda with anger issues.” The contrast between her public behavior — polite comments, pleasant smiles, diligent typing — and her private thoughts — expressed in fierce, 20-second death metal blasts — will be familiar to anyone who’s endured the tribulations of cubicle life. [New York Times]

Manga the Week of 7/26/17

Jul. 20th, 2017 09:47 pm
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Posted by Sean Gaffney

SEAN: Viz is done. Yen is mostly done. Quiet final week of the month, right? HA.

J-Novel Club has the 3rd volume of excellent fantasy The Faraway Paladin, which barely feels like a “light” novel at all.

Lots of Kodansha, starting with a Del Rey resurrection, next week it’s Princess Resurrection 16.

The 4th volume of All-Rounder Meguru hits digitally.

Descending Stories is a highly unusual license for North America, particularly in print, but I thought the first volume was pretty good, so am looking forward to next week’s Vol. 2.

MICHELLE: I plan to read both of these soon!

ASH: I’m still waiting, perhaps/probably in vain, for All-Rounder Meguru to be released in print, but I greatly enjoyed the first volume of Descending Stories!

SEAN: We near the end of Fairy Tail with its 61st volume.

More sports manga with the 3rd Giant Killing out digitally.

MICHELLE: It’s so good!

ASH: I’d really like to see this series in print, too!

SEAN: And we also have the 2nd and final Queen Emeraldas hardcover from Kodansha, whose first volume felt like a Wagnerian tragedy, which is… appropriate given it’s Leiji Matsumoto. Expect more lyrical deaths in Book 2.

MICHELLE: I’ve been holding on to volume one ’til now, so I’m looking forward to reading this!

ASH: The first volume was terrific; I’m definitely on board for the finale.

SEAN: Springtime with Ninjas comes to an end with its 4th digital volume.

And there’s a 5th Tokyo Tarareba Girls digitally as well.

ANNA: I still need to read the first volume!

ASH: Print, please! (Sorry/not sorry to be a broken record. I’m thrilled these are all being translated, but I yearn for physical media.)

SEAN: Lastly for Kodansha, we have the 11th UQ Holder, aka Negima 2: The Search For Negi.

One Peace’s Maria Holic release has hit double digits with Vol. 10.

Seven Seas has a very large number of titles out next week, starting with the 4th Battle Rabbits.

A Certain Scientific Railgun 12, as you can tell by its cover, pairs up everyone’s favorite normal girl with one of the series’ more amusing villains. Will they bond? And can I avoid spoiling Index 15 in my review?

Generation Witch is the debut this week, a slice-of-life manga about witches that also seems to be a bit darker than the equivalent comparison, Flying Witch. It ran in Ichijinsha’s Comic Rex.

Hatsune Miku’s troubles continue with Vol. 2 of Bad End Night.

My Monster Secret is one of the more consistently funny manga coming out right now, so I’m definitely getting Vol. 7.

And a 3rd volume of The Seven Princes of the Thousand-Year Labyrinth, which takes less time to read than to type the title.

ASH: Heh.

SEAN: Speaking of awkward titles, enjoy Vol. 6 of The Testament of Sister New Devil.

Vertical gives us an 8th volume of cheery, kid-friendly, fluffy bunny manga Wolfsmund, and I am totally not lying like a rug at all.

ASH: It is such a heart-warming title! I mean, sometimes fire is involved…

SEAN: They also have a light novel based on the tragic romance manga Your Lie in April.

Viz does have a digital release for us, with the 2nd ēlDLIVE from the Reborn! author. (Hey, how about a digital release of Reborn! that finishes the series?)

Yen Digital has its own offerings next week, with Vol. 11s for Aphorism, Crimson Prince, and Sekirei.

Yen Digital also has new offerings. First we have Kuzumi-kun, Can’t You Read the Room?, a 4-koma title from Gangan Joker and is about a popular girl and a guy who simply cannot, well, read the room.

There’s also the debut of Now Playing, a title from Gangan Online that I don’t know much about except it has a Drama Club.

Yen On also has its light novel releases, starting with the 7th Durarara!!. Was Izaya killed at the end of Book 6? Sadly no, but he is in hospital. What will happen with our huge cast now?

And the 7th Kagerou Daze is subtitled From the Darkness, meaning I suspect we’re still not quite at a conclusion, though we are caught up with Japan, so it may be a while till the next one.

No Game No Life is down to twice a year, and this 6th book doesn’t even feature the main cast, as it takes place long in the past.

And with Vols. 8-10 of Sword Art Online out digitally, we are caught up, and therefore ready for Vol. 11 to come out print AND digitally next month.

Yen also has a couple of manga titles that weren’t in this week’s pile. First of all, Sekirei is getting a print release, and the first volume is out next week. If you like harem titles, this may be for you.

Lastly, enjoy wallowing in the teenage muck that is the 4th volume of Scum’s Wish. It is highly addicting muck, mind you.

MICHELLE: And far better than I’d initially expected it would be!

ASH: I was surprised, too!

SEAN: Is it too hot to read manga? Or are you getting one of these next week?

Hamilkitties!

Jul. 20th, 2017 03:09 pm
rachelmanija: (It was a monkey!)
[personal profile] rachelmanija


Curious Alex.





Erin, waiting for it.

Honey So Sweet Volume 7

Jul. 20th, 2017 01:10 pm
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Posted by Anna N

Honey So Sweet Volume 7 by Amu Meguro

Between My Love Story!! and Honey So Sweet, English manga readers certainly have some stellar current shoujo series that are standouts for being adorable and benign. I was struck by just how Nice with a capital N Honey So Sweet is with the seventh volume’s take on a typical shoujo plot of the girl who gets a crush on main girls boyfriend and attempts to drive a wedge between them.

Miyabe has a crush on Taiga, and she proceeds to pursue him in the relentless and clueless way that only someone in the grips of first love is capable of. She shows up when Nao and Taiga are about to share some precious time alone, and she even starts trying to copy Nao’s hairstyle and outfits in an attempt to get Taiga’s attention. Nao at first doesn’t bring up her own feelings of jealousy, because she’s afraid of being viewed as petty and selfish. But she eventually realizes that it is much better to be honest. Taiga is fairly clueless about what Miyabe is up to for far too long and things start getting out of hand. It is heartwarming to see Futami trying to intervene to distract Miyabe from her poorly executed boyfriend stealing plan.

As the ineffective boyfriend stealer, Miyabe ends up getting treated with a great amount of compassion when all her strategies don’t end up working out. A marginal character in a situation who would serve as a distraction or be quickly forgotten in a less benign manga ends up having her feelings and friendship acknowledged. There’s something so human and hopeful about Honey So Sweet, it is the perfect manga to read if you need something to offset any cynicism you may be feeling.

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Posted by Ana

Title: White Tears

Author: Hari Kunzru

Genre: Speculative Fiction, Horror

Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: March 14 2017
Hardcover: 304 Pages

white-tears

Two twenty-something New Yorkers. Seth is awkward and shy. Carter is the glamorous heir to one of America’s great fortunes. They have one thing in common: an obsession with music. Seth is desperate to reach for the future. Carter is slipping back into the past. When Seth accidentally records an unknown singer in a park, Carter sends it out over the Internet, claiming it’s a long lost 1920s blues recording by a musician called Charlie Shaw. When an old collector contacts them to say that their fake record and their fake bluesman are actually real, the two young white men, accompanied by Carter’s troubled sister Leonie, spiral down into the heart of the nation’s darkness, encountering a suppressed history of greed, envy, revenge, and exploitation.

Standalone or Series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Bought

Format (e- or p-): Ecopy

REVIEW

I’ve been sitting on this review for weeks, mulling over my conflicted feelings about White Tears. It’s a really thought-provoking, engaging book: a terrifying ghost story, a revenge fantasy, that attempts an extremely timely exploration of race in America and a look at the ails of cultural appropriation.

It’s the latter two that I am not so sure about because I am not completely certain the author took the story to the place where it could – should? – have been.

Believe I buy a graveyard of my own
Believe I buy a graveyard of my own
Put my enemies all down in the ground
Put me under a man they call Captain Jack
Put me under a man they call Captain Jack
He wrote his name all down my back.

Two young white dudes become best friends in college over their shared love for music. Most specifically, the type of old Blues created by black creators – the type that nowadays exist only in prized, expensive collections. Carter is the Rich One, the one that collects records and has an idealised look of history, music and above all, blackness. Carter is White Privilege impersonated. Seth has a love for tech, for recording sounds – one of his hobbies is to walk around experimenting with his tech creations, capturing sounds made by unsuspecting people (i.e. a creepy stalker). We are primed by the story to loathe Seth and Carter – they are both creeps hiding as regular “cool guys” white dudes.

Seth – by way of his brilliant creations – is somehow able to capture sounds of the past. It is one of those that ends up the catalytic for what happens next. A remarkable song is recorded in passing, its author a black man he happened to overhear singing in the park, a song with lyrics so powerful that Seth and Carter decide to tweak it to appear “authentic” and release online under the name of Charlie Shaw. They are contacted by an old collector who say that their fake record is real, that Charlie Shaw existed and that he had been looking for the B side for years. And years.

And that’s when things start to get out of control: first Carter is beat to a coma and Seth is expelled from their apartment and loses all of his equipment. Aided by Carter’s troubled sister Leonie, Seth feels he needs to “make things right”.

But this story has a B side. Like all B sides, we know it exists from the moment the story starts playing. Seth’s narrative points to recurring paranormal phenomena that more or less prepares the reader for when the B side is played. From that moment onward, the story becomes an utterly terrifying, time-slipping ghost story in which the present seamlessly morphs with the past and Seth experiences in his own skin the memories and life of the real Charlie Shaw. Charlie is a black man and his is a difficult, tragic, unfair life in the Jim Crow South. The story spirals frenetically from here, with Seth losing his footing in reality and it all eventually reach a gory climax – as Charlie finds his revenge on the very people who wronged him.

And here is where my conflicted feelings find harbour: the moment when the story becomes a deeply personal story of experience racism as opposed to a story that truly examines racism on a systemic level. When we learn that the things that happened to Carter and his family are not random, that his family’s has a history of not only cultural appropriation but of exploitation of black labour and of black lives for over a century and are directly responsible for what happened to Charlie, it ended up removing some of the power the story could have had for me. To me it would have been more powerful, more relevant if the terrible things that happened to Seth and Carter were utterly unfair and random, just because of their race. But I guess even in this, white privilege wins (perhaps that’s exactly the point).

On the other hand, history is experienced by people on a personal level. It doesn’t matter that what happens to Charlie is the result of systemic racism because for Charlie what happens to him, happens to him. It is personal and perhaps removing this element would detract from his narrative, his story, his history. I still can’t help but to feel that by doing so, by making the story so attached to a very specific family of Very Evil white people, the book is somehow letting history down?

I said I had complicated feelings.

Also, complicated – and by complicated, I mean terrible – is the lack of women representation in the story. Although the story is from Seth’s limited viewpoint narrative and it has been established that Seth is not a good guy, it still matters that women are non-existent or end up dead (and their death used a catalyst for Seth to slip further into Charlie’s story).

The book goes far into exploring cultural appropriation, white privilege and systemic racism via a terrifying ghost story. I am just not entirely convinced that it went far enough.

Rating: 7 – Very Good

Buy the Book:

(click on the link to purchase)

The post Book Review: White Tears by Hari Kunzru appeared first on The Book Smugglers.

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Posted by Sean Gaffney

By Yoshiki Tanaka. Released in Japan as “Ginga Eiyū Densetsu” by Tokuma Shoten. Released in North America by Haikasoru. Translated by Tyren Grillo.

Well, I did ask for more politics, and we get it here, though there’s not really a lot of political backroom dealing. Instead, what we get is Reinhard sitting back, letting everyone else hang themselves, and then strolling in and taking everything over. I’m still not quite sure we’re supposed to like Reinhard or not, and certainly his casual lack of empathy as he sacrifices people for his own ends can be chilling, but there’s no doubt that at the end of the day he can make the decisions that lead to the Empire gaining power, whereas Yang Wen-Li is never going to be that person (much to Yang’s own relief, I suspect). It can be a bit uncomfortable to read – “what if the Space Nazis were the best option?” is essentially where were’ going with this current plot – but it’s certainly fascinating.

Yang in particular is not having a very good book. He’s back at his Death Star, but the fight that comes to him is just a diversion, and he knows it. Moreover, Julian has been transferred away from him , and though Yank knows that right now it’s the best thing to do, particularly as he needs someone he can trust on Phezzan, it’s not doing wonders for his psyche. Julian is not only the son he never had, but also his minder, and Yang is now required to do things like wake himself up. The horror! Sadly, while Yang can figure out exactly what’s going to happen, he can’t do much to stop it – indeed, the first third or so of the book doesn’t even have him in it. Julian does get to be awesome when he gets to Phezzan, but it’s preventing further damage control more than anything else.

Speaking of Phezzan, the trouble with trying to play both sides against each other in a never-ending war while you sit back and make money off of it is that sooner or later you may get called out by one of the sides. The scenes where The kidnapping of the emperor occur are probably the most amusing in the book, as Reinhard solves almost all his problems by literally doing nothing, allowing the resistance to escape with the World’s Brattiest Emperor, a 7-year-old child with no impulse control and a tendency to bite. This of course gives Reinhard a good excuse to send every ship he has to attack the Alliance, and install an 8-month-old girl on the throne as the new emperor. Even his enemies are sitting back and staring at how much everything just comes together for Reinhard here.

You may notice we have a new translator, though I didn’t see any appreciable difference in quality. A lot of the time Legend of Galactic Heroes is written like a musty old history textbook, and that comes across very well here, though it may annoy some people not used to this sort of narrative. Legend of Galactic Heroes is never going to be a series that inspires obsessive love, but it is noble and staid, and wears its empire building on its sleeve. We’ll see how the chips fall next time. And will Reinhard and Yang ever meet face to face?

Oh yes, and Rupert dies, probably because he’s in a Wagnerian novel series and his name is Rupert.

Daily Happiness

Jul. 20th, 2017 01:08 am
torachan: arale from dr slump dressed in a penguin suit and smiling (arale penguin)
[personal profile] torachan
1. Day off tomorrow! I'm looking forward to staying home and relaxing.

2. The weather's been staying cooler after that spike earlier in the month. High seventies in the day, back down in the sixties at night. It's still pretty muggy, but I'll take this over being muggy and super hot any time.

3. I love looking up at the high shelf above my computer and seeing kitty paws sticking out. XD

The Language Attic: Glaive

Jul. 20th, 2017 06:00 am
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Posted by Nancy Jane Moore

Webster'sAs I’ve mentioned before, my sweetheart’s daughter comes over periodically to consult our very large (and rather old) unabridged Merriam-Webster dictionary. She keeps a word list and, judging by the words on it, she’s been reading a lot of older works.

The other day one of her works was glaive. It sounded familiar to me, and when she read out the definition in Webster’s, I said, “Aha. I was right. A glaive is a naginata.”

Which settled the question for me, but probably not for those unfamiliar with traditional Japanese weapons.

A naginata, or glaive in both English and French, is a weapon about the length of a spear that has a single-sided blade on the end instead of just a sharp point. That is, you can cut with it, not just stab as you do with a spear.

Glaive appears to be an obsolete term, more common in history and old-fashioned stories, though apparently the word is used poetically for sword. The only references I can find to modern training with it appear to be related to the Society for Creative Anachronism.

glaive

glaive

 

Naginata, on the other hand, is not obsolete at all as either a word or a weapon. It may not be used in war these days, but people study the martial art of naginata in modern times. Naginata training is common in Japan, but also exists in other countries.

naginata

naginata

 

Here’s one of the cool facts about naginata: most of the grand masters today are women, as are most of the students. That’s in part because the naginata was considered an appropriate weapon for a samurai woman, particularly if she found it necessary to defend her home in the absence of her menfolk.

In Japan, girls study the art of naginata in school. I once met some masters from Japan who were visiting Washington, DC, for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. They were women in their 60s and 70s.

I cannot find any reference to western women using a glaive, more’s the pity.

I personally love a good sword, but there is a real advantage to a naginata (or a glaive): Reach. You don’t have to get close to someone to cut them. I always liked the six-foot staff (bo in Japanese) for a similar reason. It’s nice to be able to hit someone from a distance.

But a staff with a blade. Can’t get much cooler than that.

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Anonymous Noise Vol. 3

Jul. 20th, 2017 03:03 am
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Posted by Anna N

Anonymous Noise Volume 3 by Ryoko Fukuyama

I’ve found Anonymous Noise both intriguing and frustrating due to some of the overly contrived coincidences (even for shoujo manga). However with the third volume either the storytelling has settled down a bit or it just took a couple volumes for my suspension of disbelief to kick in, because I found myself smiling more while I was reading this manga instead of feeling snarky.

One of the things that I found a bit frustrating in the earlier volumes is that there were some characters functioning in silos to a degree that seemed somewhat ridiculous. The love triangle in the manga is clear, but if the three sides of the triangle haven’t each had a conversation with each other, it seems like the reader is just waiting around for the plot to progress. In this volume people actually talked to each other! They might have been lying dramatically the whole time, but a conversation happened. First, Nino and Miou hash it out a bit, as Nino has taken on Miou’s previous role as singer in Yuzu’s band while Miou moves on to work at a more professional level with Momo. Nino starts learning the guitar after Momo’s (female) manager gives her an old guitar of his. Nino continues to be incredibly inarticulate about her own feelings, and Miou helps her out by pointing out that she’s jealous of any woman who is close to Momo.

Yuzu’s angst is dialed up to 11 as usual as he struggles with his hopeless infatuation for Nino, and when he and Momo meet they finally figure out that they’ve been obsessed with the same girl/muse all along. Nino and Momo finally have a conversation where they confess that they USED to have crushes on each other. I enjoy the way Yuzu is in tune with his feelings far too much and while Momo might be experiencing a torrent of emotions, she’s much less self aware. So much angst!!! While the pacing of all these plot points still doesn’t feel as measured and natural as most of the other shoujo manga I read, the scenes of the characters performing have a tremendous energy that makes up for a lot. Really, one of the main things that won me over was the name and the costuming of Yuzu’s new band, which is hilarious. I’m looking forward to a band showdown coming soon.

Reading Wednesday

Jul. 19th, 2017 08:37 pm
chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
[personal profile] chomiji

I finished my last-minute reading of Hugo short fiction items and did my voting on Saturday morning. I think that there were a LOT of very good "shorts" this year.

I am re-reading The Story of the Stone by Barry Hughart, which is the second of the Master Li and Number Ten Ox books. I also tried (really, I did) to read two Very Serious books, which turned out to be nearly unreadable and almost useless for their intended purpose. *looks shifty*

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Posted by Linda Nagata

“The Martian Obelisk” is my first story for Tor.com and it’s just up today. Find it here online. This is a story I originally wrote a few years ago, but I wasn’t happy with it. In part, it struck me as just too grim for the times, but since then, we have entered a much grimmer age.

Last fall I pulled the story out of a file folder, re-read it, and decided to spend a little more time working on it. After putting it through another revision, I asked Tor.com editor Ellen Datlow if she would like to see it. She agreed to take a look, and to my surprise and delight, she accepted it.

As grim as it is, “The Martian Obelisk” is also a sentimental story. On Twitter, Aimee Ogden described it as “starkly hopeful.” I think that’s right.

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Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, Vol. 1

Jul. 19th, 2017 02:13 pm
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Posted by Michelle Smith

By CLAMP | Published by Kodansha Comics

It’s been a long time since I read anything by CLAMP. After failing to love Kobato. and Gate 7, I just sort of drifted away from paying attention to what they were doing. When a beloved favorite got a new arc, however, my interest was piqued. And when Kodansha Comics not only licensed it, but released the first volume digitally months ahead of the print release, I might’ve squeed.

We rejoin Sakura Kinomoto as she begins her first year as a middle-school student. To her surprise and delight, Syaoran Li meets her on her way to school and announces that he’s back from Hong Kong and will henceforth be a permanent resident of Tomoeda. Everything seems to be coming up roses, except Syaoran looks troubled…

Soon, Sakura has a dream in which the cards she’s captured turn transparent and wakes to find it’s true. Her texts (yes, we’ve entered the modern age) seeking advice from Eriol in England go unanswered, and the next night, she dreams she receives the key to a new staff, which also comes to pass in reality. A couple of supernatural attacks follow, and Sakura is able to “Release!” the new key into the Staff of Dreams, with which she acquires two new cards. Kero and Yue are as clueless as Sakura is about what’s going on, but by the end of the volume, it’s clear that Syaoran and Eriol know more than they’re letting on and are probably colluding to keep Sakura in the dark about something.

It’s a cute start—not very different from what we’ve seen before, but it sure is nice to spend time with these characters again. What surprised me most, actually, was how much I loved seeing Kero-chan again. I seriously adore him, especially when he’s being sweet and supportive. Plus, the art is so lovely and familiar. I grew fond of the art style in xxxHOLiC, but this is the kind of art I associate more with CLAMP. I am a little worried this will turn out to be a disappointing sequel, but for now I’m keen to see how it develops.

Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card is ongoing in Japan, where two volumes have been released so far. Kodansha has made the first English edition available now in digital format, but it won’t see a print release until November.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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Posted by Thea

In which we reveal the cover for the fourthshort story in our 2017 season of Gods and Monsters: it Came Back by Samantha Lienhard!

Without further ado, behold the smugglerific cover!

It Came Back

About the Story

“Luna Anderson…” He stared at me with an intensity that made me fidget. “The lost sheep has returned at last.”

After five years of avoiding her past, Luna finally returns to her childhood home. Her imposing grandfather may be long gone, but his specter hangs over the estate like a curse–Luna is eager to sell everything and leave the Anderson House behind her for good.

But when she stumbles across a sheath of letters, Luna discovers her grandfather’s past is darker and more twisted than she ever could have imagined. A secret is uncovered, and a monster awakens…

Curses don’t stay buried forever.

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A Word From Your Friendly Neighborhood Editors (and Book Smugglers)

When we set out to establish our annual short story call theme for 2017, we both loved the idea of Gods and Monsters. And, horror fans that we are (ok, that Thea is), we were hopeful that we would receive–in addition to submissions featuring benevolent gods–tales that would encompass the #TeamMonster part of the theme.

Then, we received Samantha Lienhard’s It Came Back.

A classic horror story, set in the 1980s, featuring an estranged daughter, a partial epistolary narrative, an otherworldly artifact, and a family secret, It Came Back hit all of the right horror tropes–even better, it manages to do all these things and still be truly scary. We couldn’t have dreamed up a more terrifying specter to kick off the monster portion of Gods and Monsters… we hope you’re as taken with Samantha Lienhard’s nightmare stalker as we are.

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About the Author: Samantha Lienhard

Samantha Lienhard

Samantha has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and is an affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association. Her other publications include a horror/comedy novella called The Zombie Mishap, a Lovecraftian serial called The Book at Dernier, and a short horror story inspired by Japanese mythology called “Rokurokubi.” When she isn’t working on her stories, she can usually be found playing video games—and writing video game scripts.

About the Artist: Tomislav Jagnjic

it-came-back-no-text

My name is Tomislav Jagnjic, I am from Herceg Novi Montenegro currently living in Novi Sad Serbia. I’ve been painting and drawing since kindergarden. After seeing some amazing artworks on Deviantart in 2009, I instantly got inspired and bought a pen tablet. Since then I’ve been working with a large amount of clients as a freelancer as a concept artist and illustrator. I started learning 3D and combining that with painting back in 2015 and I’m still using that technique as I find it the easiest and quickest way to execute my initial sketches to final artwork. My style is all around, through fantasy works, creatures, landscapes to imitating traditional painting in digital. My inspiration are other artists on Artstation and artist friends on Facebook. But not inspiration as competitive as much as just when I see something good I just want to paint and practice till I reach that level, it keeps me going, if you now what I mean

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How to Get the Story

It Came Back will be published officially on July 25, 2017. You can purchase the DRM-free ebook (EPUB, MOBI) that contains the story as well as an essay from the author available for purchase on all major ebook retail sites and directly from us.

Preorder the Ebook Today
Smashwords ¦ Amazon US ¦ Amazon UK

Want the book right now? Buy the DRM-free ebook edition directly from us and read the story today:

Buy Now

Add the book on Goodreads, and read It Came Back for free next Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

The post A Smugglerific Cover: IT CAME BACK by Samantha Lienhard appeared first on The Book Smugglers.

Pre-packing Day

Jul. 19th, 2017 01:02 pm
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Posted by Ilona

Things to do today:

AMA at r/books. We’ll start answering at 11:00 am, but you can ask questions now.

Do laundry.

Fold laundry.

Figure out how many days for the first leg of the trip.

Pack for West Coast and San Diego Comicon: printed T-shirts and capris and shorts.

Schedule an appointment to do my nails, because they are a disaster and I will be signing, so people will be looking at my hands.

Buy more markers while I’m out.

Activate the travel iPads I bought for us, because the laptop is bloody heavy.

Load the iPads with all of the software we need.

Find time to write somehow.

Identify the knitting pattern and make sure I have the proper yarn and needles to work with on the plane.

Identify which audio books I can listen too on the plane.

Ugh.  Uuuuuugh.

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Posted by Steven Harper Piziks

Steven Harper PiziksA while ago, I heard about the book UND WAS HAT DAS MIT MIR ZU TUN? (AND WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ME?) by Sacha Battyany. It’s about a man who discovers that in 1945, his great-aunt, who was a countess in Austria, threw a huge party with her husband. Around midnight, she gathered the guests and, at her behest, they went down to a work camp, where they all casually murdered 180 Jews. Then they got into their chauffeur-driven cars and went home.

Battyany, a Millennial, had never heard about this part of his family history.  He started digging, and discovered that lots of people knew about this, and the incident had been widely reported in the local news at the time, but no one talked about it.  He wrote about his findings and the impact his search had on him and his family.

Battyany wrote in German, and the book isn’t available in English until October.  I downloaded the sample chapters in German to my Kindle to see what they were like for myself.

I wasn’t interested in another book about the Holocaust itself.  It’s been covered extensively, and I teach MAUS every year to my seniors.  I was more interested in this book for the outsider’s perspective.  What do you do when you learn your family was involved in something terrible?  Especially something most of your family knew about but never told you?  How do you live, knowing just a few miles away from your house, an entire population is being tortured and killed?

My own family has at least one dreadful person in it.  While researching the Drake family tree, I found the will of a cousin or uncle who owned slaves in the 1800s.  His will stated that although he had promised one of his slave women her freedom upon his death, he had recently changed his mind because of her “uppity ways” and he was instead willing the slave to his daughter.  It makes me sick to think we’re related.

So I was interested in Battyany’s findings and reaction.

However, German books are hit-or-miss for me.  German is a difficult language for non-natives to read, more difficult than Spanish or French, partly because of the structure of the language, but mostly because of the attitude of the writers.

English gives you the sentence in pieces.  In general, we start with the subject (who is doing something), then go to the verb (what happens), then we go on to other bits like prepositional phrases that tell us where and when things happen.  As an example, take Jimmy should go shopping for his mother in the the city tomorrow.  We build a slow picture.  First we see Jimmy, then see what he’ll do (should go shopping), then who he’ll do it for (his mother), then when and where (in the city, tomorrow).  We can mix things up a bit, but we still build the picture of what’s happening in pieces.

German, however, is a big-picture language.  You have to get the whole sentence before you know what’s happening.  The example sentence above would read in German Jimmy soll morgen in die Stadt fuer seine Mutter einkaufen gehen. This literally means Jimmy should tomorrow in the city for his mother shopping go.  Notice the word order.  Although we know Jimmy SHOULD be doing something, we don’t know what it is until we get to the very end of the sentence, though along the way we learn his mother and the city are involved.  In order to understand the meaning, we have to hold the entire sentence in our heads until we get to the end and CLICK! We get the whole picture at once.

This takes some practice, if you didn’t grow up doing it.  It’s like being used to seeing a picture by assembling jigsaw pieces and then suddenly being expected to see it by having it snap into existence on the table.

German writers take an almost malicious glee in creating long, tortuous sentences in which you have no idea what’s going on until the last three words of a 100+ word section.  In order to get my German degree, I had to read a lot of German literature, most of it written during the angst-ridden post-war years, and it was indeed tortuous to read.  It put me off reading German literature for a long, long time.

German newspapers and magazines are equally difficult.  Unlike their American counterparts, who keep to a simple, straightforward style meant to be easy for all readers, German journalists deliberately use an awful, long-winded, twisted style, complete with eye-wrenchingly (or jaw-crushingly) long words that no sane person uses in everyday conversation.  I don’t know where this got started, but it needs to stop.  It annoys native Germans, in fact, but journalists keep it up anyway.

And there’s the fact that I’m not fluent in German anymore.  I used to be, but years of being away from the country and lack of constant practice have rusted me.  My understanding is much better than my production, but German is still a greater challenge than it once was.

All this is a roundabout way of saying that I approached Battyany’s book with a wary eye.  I could wait until October for the English translation, but that felt like cheating.  Besides, translations are never as good as the original.  So I downloaded the sample chapters in German to my Kindle and cracked it open.

To my delight, I could read it with ease.  Battyany, a journalist, avoids the awful German newspaper style and writes in a more conversational style, and I’m having no trouble following him.  I stumble across the occasional unfamiliar word (it took me longer than it should have to untangle a reference to semen donation, for example), but like I teach my students to do, I breeze past them unless it’s clear I need to know the word or phrase to follow the passage–and in that case, the Internet gives me the translation in seconds.  I’m reading slower than in English, but faster than I expected.

Battyany’s story is compelling, and when I reached the end of the sample chapters, I downloaded the full novel.  A little light reading for vacation!  🙂

–Steven Harper Piziks

DANNY on sale now at Book View Cafe.

Danny Large

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Cooking the Books with Ken Liu

Jul. 19th, 2017 09:14 am
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Posted by Ana

Happy Wednesday and welcome to a brand new monthly feature in partnership with Fran Wilde and Aliette de Bodard’s Cooking the Books Podcast!

cooking-the-books

Today’s guest is Ken Liu, with a special, exclusive to Book Smugglers, Cooking the Books Interview, in time for the author’s second Dandelion Empire book release in paperback!

wall-of-storms

Check out the chat below:

Wall of Storms is out now.

A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, Ken Liu (http://kenliu.name) is the author of The Dandelion Dynasty, a silkpunk epic fantasy series (The Grace of Kings(2015), The Wall of Storms (2016), and a forthcoming third volume) and The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories (2016), a collection.

The post Cooking the Books with Ken Liu appeared first on The Book Smugglers.

Kounodori: Dr. Stork, Vol. 1

Jul. 19th, 2017 07:54 am
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Posted by Sean Gaffney

By You Suzunoki. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Morning. Released in North America digitally by Kodansha Comics. Translated by Erin Procter.

Despite occasionally feeling overwhelmed by new titles, I am grateful to the publishers putting out digital-only series for choosing some series that are clearly experiments, titles that would not have a remote chance of being licensed in print over here but can perhaps reach some kind of an audience digitally. We’re seeing long-running sports titles, some experimental josei, and now we have Kounodori, a series from Kodansha’s flagship seinen magazine about an obstetrician who helps expecting families when he’s not busy being a secret, mysterious piano player. Back in the day, I used to go buy a random Japanese manga magazine from Kinokuniya, crack it open, and see what was in there that we weren’t getting here. This is a classic example. It’s episodic rather than having a continuous plot, goes in for dramatic lectures and births rather than fight scenes, and the art style has characters whose looks are less cute and more natural.

“But is it good?”, I hear you cry. I’d say yes, it definitely is good, provided that you come at the series aware that at its core, this is a melodrama. In fact, it pretty much verges on soap opera. There’s little humor, and those who dislike authority figures moralizing over people in difficult circumstances may dislike the first story especially. But I’d say overall I really enjoyed reading it. The overdramaticness and small stakes help to give it a tense feel that goes along with the plot, as the story is basically “what new crisis is putting a pregnant mother in jeopardy?” over and over again. We start with a poor mother, abandoned by her boyfriend, who has not had any prenatal care until she’s ready to give birth – she is dressed down rather sharply by our titular doctor. The longest story in the book has a wife giving birth prematurely, with all the dangers inherent in that process, and lots of discussion of what’s safest for the mother and the child. A chapter on gonorrhea shows us the dangers of adulterous guys, particularly when their cheating causes harm to their unborn children. Lastly, we get a stripper who needs to have a C-section, and is horrified as she says it would ruin her career.

I’ll be honest, I’m still not quite sure why he also moonlights as a piano player, except to make this something other than a standard medical drama. We do get a bit of Kounodori’s past – he grew up as an orphan, and was bullied – but that mostly serves to show us how he’s grown into a fine compassionate man. There’s also a lot of emotions in this, with the exception of Kounodori himself. The husbands are twitchy, the wives are yelling, and his fellow obstetrician looks to constantly be on the verge of breaking down. And at times the moralizing that Kounodori is prone to can be annoying. But for the most part, I really enjoyed reading a type of series I never thought I’d see over here. I suspect, given its ‘story of the week’ nature, that you can dip into the books at any volume, but the first is always a good place to start.

Daily Happiness

Jul. 19th, 2017 01:41 am
torachan: close-up of a sleepy kitten face (sleepy molly)
[personal profile] torachan
1. Got the car back this afternoon and it's running great. I think the disintigrating parts that had to be replaced were probably disintigrating for a while and its performance was suffering, but not to the point where we really noticed until it got really bad.

2. Molly and Jasper really don't spend much time together, so I was really happy to see them both on the window table together looking at a bug last night.

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