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otakumom

otakumom

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Origin in Death
J.D. Robb
Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don't Tell You
Jay Rubin
The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes The story is told by Tony. He is pretty much your regular run of the mill guy who goes through childhood and adulthood with a certain distance and complacency about things. His dealings with Veronica were the most turbulent and they also involved his once close friend, Adrian.

After his marriage fails (though amicably) and sees less of his daughter's family (due to general progression of things), he falls into a routine which is then disrupted by unresolved issues from the past. I found this portion painful in that he is so fixated on it. Yet, I also felt that Veronica yanked his chain a lot when they were going out and whenever they dealt with each afterwards.

Okay, I just really go irritated with all the main characters involved. Veronica had major issues but dicked Tony around when they were going out and later with regards to the diary.

I realize why but I still couldn't muster up the sympathy. Tony pissed me off because he just couldn't let things go and took on unnecessary responsibility for things that weren't his responsibility; he supposed to be a grown up. And Adrian for taking the easy way out.

I just felt disappointed that in the end everyone was so narcissistic and hadn't grown one bit except older.

Those things aside. I liked that Tony was a regular average person and I could understand his earlier insecurity with Veronica and wanting to prove that he was not the loser that she had held in contempt back when they were going out.

I also liked the dynamics with Margaret and Tony -- not that I wanted them to split up because I didn't. It just wasn't perfect and it was realistic -- no bang but just a whimper.


I was hoping for a narrative that was more introspective of a man approaching and being in his twilight years. And this book does deliver. However, the introspection was painful as it seemed that there wasn't a degree of maturity reached by the narrator of the story -- just that he got older and things happened. I find that the hardest to deal with even if I do appreciate its realism. I guess in the end, I always hope to read about people get older and wiser but reality is not so accommodating.
Red Velvet and Absinthe - Kelley Armstrong, Mitzi Szereto, Janine Ashbless, Elizabeth Daniels, Bonnie Dee, Giselle Renarde, Charlotte Stein, Anna Meadows, Zander Vyne, Ashley Lister, Sharon Bidwell, Claire Buckingham, Cary Williams, Tahira Iqbal, Rose de Fer, Even Mora This is a collection of short paranormal romance stories. Most of the stories had interesting premises but not all were well developed. A few were pretty cliche while some were really interesting and a few were just out and out salacious smut. I think my favorite part of the collection is the title. For some reason, it drew me in and made me lower my guard and try a collection of short stories. However, I'm so glad that this was a elibrary book and that I didn't pay for this collection. I realize that I'm truly not a fan of short stories or anthologies.
South of the Border, West of the Sun - Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel This work deals with Hajime who again is a character who is somehow on the fringes of the mainstream or doesn't necessarily feel at home with mainstream society. To say that he is a happily married man is not accurate. He's a contently married man until his childhood friend and first love, Shimamoto, reappears in his life.

We see the middle-aged angst or the mid life crisis play out. True, Shimamoto and Hajime have a special bond that was forged during childhood and just never could unite. But where does it fit in their adult lives? They aren't children anymore. They can never get that back. And each suffers from a form of arrested development; each also seek a different path once they realize that.

I thought this was interesting seeing the point of view of a middle-aged man go through his angst and dealing with a longing that hadn't reach resolution until circumstances complicated everything. I also liked the way it ended with no clear cut resolution of what the future would hold. It is realistic; not wrapped up neat with a bow.
Storm Front - Jim Butcher I remember watching the television show long ago and enjoying it. I'm pleased to learn that the show was mostly faithful to its literary origins. Our main character, Harry Dresden, is a real wizard who works as a private investigator of cases with a paranormal nature. He is kind of like a magical yet self-deprecating Mickey Spillane.

In addition to the episodic mystery, you also learn about the magical world and that Harry walks a thin line in both the non-magical world as well as the magical world. He is also irreverent and is quite the snarky characters.

The female characters pretty much play the whole range of stereotypes from tough broad to seductive femme fatale. If Harry wasn't so self-deprecating, it might have been irritating but somehow everything pretty much works well enough.

Le Chevalier d'Eon 2 (Chevalier D'Eon Graphic Novels) - Kiriko Yumeji;Tou Ubukata I generally like the premise and the artwork but it can be confusing and battle scenes are overdrawn.
Sputnik Sweetheart - Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel I think how you feel about this novel depends on which of his other novels you have read first. After reading the last two books from the Rat series, Norwegian Wood, and 1Q84, this novel was good. I love that he has different style and voices but still deals with the disconnected character trying to connect. There are surreal elements but enjoy the characters and the story.

Sumire is a bit of a ditsy bon-vivant. She's a departure from the serious disconnected characters or a married lover for the main character (though we have one of those too). It was interesting trying to make sense of their relationship and that of Sumire's and Miu's. For once, the male character is actually the more well balanced character. This story is mainly about Sumire and not the narrator. It's about Sumire finding her way though we get it second hand for the most part.

I think that this is the first novel by Murakami I've read where the main male character gets the girl.

What Killed Jane Austen?: And Other Medical Mysteries. George Biro and Jim Leavesley

What Killed Jane Austen?: And Other Medical Mysteries. George Biro and Jim Leavesley - George Biro This book is a hodgepodge of historical medical oddities, macabre tales and darker moments in the not so distant past. When I borrowed it from the elibrary, I thought it was a forensic examination of past cases but was proven wrong. The book is okay. It gives you anecdotes in history but most of the time offers no conclusive evidence except for a few barbs from the writer.
1Q84 - Haruki Murakami This work is not for the casual reader. It's a very dense work as well as having a lot going on on multiple levels beyond the superficial story. The story starts out slow as we are presented with parallel narratives of the two important characters, Tengo and Aomame. It starts out slow as the story progresses, you start to see the connections. I loved the parallel worlds and the parallel story lines also reflected this as well. As the story progresses, you find more connections and you are also hoping for specific connections to be made.

I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of [b:The Sirens of Titan|4982|The Sirens of Titan|Kurt Vonnegut|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1340744277s/4982.jpg|905970] (one of my favorites of all time) in so many ways with the characters struggling in parallel fronts, hoping for intersection. Also, the female main character was a strong character. She was an equal partner in this venture which you don't see so much in Japanese literature in general. I was really struck by how much of a main player she was so that scored more points for me.

Unfortunately, this novel is not for mass consumption. It either strikes a chord with you or doesn't.

How to Tame a Willful Wife

How to Tame a Willful Wife - Christy English The story was okay. The characters and plot had potential but the development of the characters just fell flat. From what I understood, this was supposed to be a reworking of Taming of the Shrew but it didn't resemble the version I remembered. Anyway, on its own, it's okay story with the typical cliche plot devices -- hoyden heroine, strong willed hero that doesn't divulge too much, dastardly villain, and ex-mistress causing jealous and misunderstanding. For a jaded reader, this work is missing something but for the new reader of this genre, you will enjoy it.
Deception Cove (Rainshadow, #2; Harmony, #10) - Jayne Castle This story jumps right into the suspense thread as well as the relationship thread. The character development is seamlessly intertwined though the relationship building was superficial. However, I love this author's ability to create an exciting suspenseful plot with strong female and male characters whom generally respect each other on a relatively even playing field.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running - Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel This work struck a chord with me. While Murakami primarily wrote about his experiences running and training for various events, it really served as a vehicle for expressing his thought process and life lessons he had learned through the process. Self-deprecating as ever, I found it refreshingly honest and down to earth. I also found that I really related to certain aspects of his personality though I've never trained or ran as a hobby. Not everyone will enjoy this book. If you are looking for training advice, this isn't exactly the goto book but you can still enjoy the personal insights of a person who enjoys running and the perspective it gives.
The Anatomist's Wife - Anna Lee Huber I couldn't put this book down. Our heroine, Kiera aka Lady Darby has been rusticating in her sister's home since her husband's death and scandal involving his activities. Greatly maligned and object of scorn by the rather catty gentry visiting her sister's home for a house party, she finds herself in a middle of a murder. The investigator, Sebastian Gage, appears to be a rakehell son of a competent investigator and Kiera is dubious of Sebastian's abilities. However, he proves that there is more than to him than his father's reputation. There are a lot of twists and turns. It was very enjoyable and I look forward to reading the next novel in the series.
Handsewn: The Essential Techniques for Tailoring and Embellishment - Margaret Rowan This book is an excellent resource. Clear and concise. The right amount of photo instruction as well as clearly written instructions. They cover the basics of sewing but primarily go over all forms of stitching from functional to different forms of embroidery.
The Complete Writer: Writing with Ease: Instructor Text - Susan Wise Bauer I borrow this book on a whim with the hope that it would give me tips to help my children's writing. While I can edit for style, I cannot teach young children the basic building blocks of writing in a manner that my kids would understand. However, this book gives me ideas based on the appropriate age level as well as exercise to help them improve the basic skills such as copywork and narration, later dictation. While I don't think this is the end all be all, it definitely gives me additional methods to keep in my proverbial bag of tricks that I can use if it should be appropriate for each of my children.
Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice - Howard Gardner I actually just skimmed this work to refresh the concept of Multiple Intelligence for personal reasons. This work tended to be more of a defense of Multiple Intelligence rather than adding anything on pragmatic level which was my hope when I borrowed it from the library. However, I did read Frames of Mind eons ago which lays out the concept and it has always stuck with me. If you are curious about this concept, I would read the earlier work and skip this one.
Train Man: The Novel (Del Rey Books) - Hitori Nakano This was a cute book. It's formatted as one long log of posting on a online bulletin board -- a modern epistolary style. The story is very much an ugly duckling fairy tale as the geek transforms and gets the girl. It was also fun reading all the other members reactions and advice at first but after awhile, it got tedious as well. I also wasn't sure how I felt that he had to change who he was. It's one thing for him to mature but it was also sending the message that geeks need to grow up and I'm not sure how I feel about that message. All and all, a cute novel.