Captain’s Fury (Codex Alera #4) ★★★★★

captainsfury (Custom)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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Captain’s Fury
Series: Codex Alera #4
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 656
Words: 175K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Two years have passed after the Night of the Red Stars and the Battle at the Elinarch (in book three of the Codex Alera, Cursor’s Fury). Rufus Scipio/Tavi had been repelling attacks from the Canim forces for two years and the war against Kalare raged on. Senator Arnos, who is in charge of the war committee, is pushing for the destruction of all of the Canim forces in Alera. Isana is faced with telling Tavi who his father is and confronting her own abilities. Tavi must find a way to end the conflict between the Canim and Alera or it may mean the destruction of all of his forces. Gaius Sextus and the Count and Countess of Calderon take on a secret mission to stop Kalare.

Senator Arnos comes to the Elinarch to take over military command against the Canim. Senator Arnos is working with Invidia Aquitaine to remove Tavi as the leader of the battle and to eliminate him entirely. Arnos is accompanied by several singulares, who are a constant threat to Tavi and who attempt to eliminate him throughout the book.

Isana, after several attempts of trying to tell Tavi that she is his mother and that his father was Gaius Septimus, was unable to do so. Araris delivers the message instead.

Tavi has a meeting with the Canim leader, Nasaug, where he tells Nasaug that he knows that the Canim are trying to build ships to get them back to their homeland. He strikes a deal with Nasaug that he would help them but Nasaug says that the only way that a deal can be struck is if Tavi returns Ambassador Varg to them. Arnos spies on this meeting and through the plotting of Arnos, Invidia and Marcus/Fidelias, Tavi is removed from his command as Captain for conspiring with the enemy. Prior to leaving, Tavi places Crassus in charge of the Alerian forces.

Tavi escapes from the prison and with Isana, Kitai, Ehren, and Araris, they board a ship to take them to Aleria Imperia. During the voyage, they are attacked by Arnos’ singulares and the group uses furycrafting to board the enemy ship and kill the witchmen that are hiding their presence from the leviathans. The enemy ship is destroyed by leviathans but Arnos’ singulares escape. During this battle, Isana’s powers grow and she is able to heal Araris who was seriously injured without a bathtub, a feat usually performed only by the most powerful healers and high lords and ladies.

Gaius takes Amara and Bernard into Kalarus’s lands, as he tells them that Kalarus has woken one of the Great Furies in the Kalare mountains and if Kalare is killed, the mountain will erupt and kill everyone in the region. Gaius intends to disarm the Fury. During their journey, Gaius cannot use his powers as this will signal Kalare that he is on Kalare’s lands and ruin their mission. Gaius gets an infection as his feet blister from walking 300 miles to the mountain and he must be tended to along the way. As they approach the mountains, the group is discovered by a legion of Immortals led by Brencis Minoris, Kalarus’s son. Gaius heals himself and destroys the legion. He then releases the great fury which destroys Kalare and all who reside in the area. Amara, who is angry at the First lord for lying to her, throws her silver coin in his face and leaves him.

At the same time, Tavi is able to free Varg from the Grey Tower and returns him to the Canim forces. He then announces his identity as Gaius Octavian and challenges Arnos to a Juris Macto. Phrygiar Navaris, who is the deadliest cutter/sword in all of Alera, represents Arnos in the duel. Marcus (Fidelias) is instructed by Invidia to kill both Arnos and Tavi after the duel, using a balest, to make it look like a Canim attack. Marcus aims the balest and is able to strike both Arnos, as he tries to escape after Tavi wins the duel, and Invidia who Arnos grabs for protection. Invidia survives the initial injury but has the poison of the garic oil in her system.

Tavi is able to strike a deal with Gaius Sextus allowing the Canim to return home and to send a cohort with them to ensure their safe passage and assist them in destroying the Vord that have taken over their lands. In the end it is also revealed that Tavi is now able to furycraft.

 

My Thoughts:

Another fantastic entry in the Codex Alera series. By this point I hope you all realize I am hopefully biased in favor of this series (this is my 3rd read since 2010) and I simply cannot find any faults. I enjoy my time reading this and while I acknowledge it isn’t at Dickens level of character development, it fulfills every expectation that I have for an Epic Fantasy.

If I HAD to choose something to complain about (because really, when don’t I complain about anything online?), it would be the whole sub-story with Gaius, Bernard and Amara. Just like they were slogging through miles and miles of marshes and swamps, reading those sections was a slog too.

I really liked reading about Tavi though. You know what though? It took me until this time around, with the author shoving it right under nose, that “Tavi” was short for Octavian. Sigh, sometimes I wonder how I put my pants on in the morning and drive to work. Tavi is smart, kind, empathetic, charismatic, mentally pliable and above all, most competent. He is the wish fulfillment of all my dreams for myself.

On the story side, the Canim make for great antagonists. As a race they are 9ft tall bipedal wolves. Individually, Butcher has done a great job of creating some really interesting characters among them. Nasaug, Varg, etc are fun to read about and the interactions between them and Tavi gives me that feeling you get when going down a slide, one of fun and wonderment. The scene where Tavi and friends break Varg out of the maximum security prison was fantastic.

Finally, Tavi learning that Isana is his mother and that Septimus was his father hit the emotional side of things just right for me. Couple that with the continued assassination attempts by Senator Arnos and his fury-assisted Assistants and you get a perfect combination of action and emotion. I enjoyed it all.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

[Manga Monday] Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #5 ★★★★☆

karekano5 (Custom)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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #5
Author: Masami Tsuda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Words: 6.1K

 

Synopsis:

Chapter 17: Miyazawa has a girls afternoon out with everyone and we get how some of the other girls met and what drew them together. They also start talking about their futures and Miyazawa realizes she has no plans for the future besides being the best at school. The chapter ends with Tsubasa revealing that her dad wants to re-marry and that she is running away to change his mind.

Chapte 18: Tsubasa tries to wheedle a way into staying at Miyazawa’s place, but one of her other friends takes control and tells her to grow up and that her dad will be coming to deal with the situation after work. He shows up and begins relating what has led up to this moment. Tsubasa ends up staying at Miyazawa’s house until things get better between Tsubasa and her dad. We are introduced to Kazuma, the son of the woman Tsubasa’s dad wants to marry. He’s the same age as Tsubasa and has his own reservations about the marriage.

Chapter 19: Tsubasa realizes she’s been acting like a spoiled brat and goes home. She tells her dad she’s ok with the re-marriage. They all get together to meet the son, for the first time. Things seem to be going well until Kazuma makes a comment about Tsubasa being in elementary school when she is actually older than him. She goes off the rails. The next day Tsubasa is being hit on by an old pervert and Kazuma comes to her rescue. They end up going to his house and have a real good bonding time. Tsubasa realizes that Kazuma comes home to an empty house every day just like her and that he understands her circumstances. She begins to realize how good having a family could be.

Chapter 20: Asaba comes to visit Miyazawa and her family while Arima is away. We get some of his backstory. Miyazawa is also starting to realize just how much she doesn’t know about Arima and it makes her feel very insecure.

Chapter 21: Miyazawa and her family go to visit her grandfather. Her father remembers her mother at that age and says Miyazawa is growing up to look just like her. Miyazawa’s father and maternal grandfather don’t get along. We get the backstory for Miyazawa’s father as he grew up without any parents and how he met Miyazawa’s mom.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a good volume. I enjoyed the various storylines about all the different families. I suspect most of my enjoyment was because the teen romance angle was almost non-existent and this was more about family relationships.

That being said, I am done with the series. Just like I can no longer eat a family sized bag of 4 Cheese Doritos (I was so sad when they stopped making that kind) like I could in my 20’s, I simply can’t read about the emotional roller coaster that is the teen life. Just like the stick in the mud that I take my life’s inspiration from, I am comfortably settled and don’t want anything unsettling me 🙂

I am thinking my next comic/manga/graphic novel read will probably either be some Asterix books or the Lodoss: Grey Witch trilogy manga.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Cursor’s Fury (Codex Alera #3) ★★★★★

cursorsfury (Custom)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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Cursor’s Fury
Series: Codex Alera #3
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 654
Words: 177K

 

Synopsis:

From BN.com and Me

The power-hungry High Lord of Kalare has launched a rebellion against the aging First Lord, Gaius Sextus, who with the loyal forces of Alera must fight beside the unlikeliest of allies-the equally contentious High Lord of Aquitaine.

Meanwhile, young Tavi of Calderon joins a newly formed legion under an assumed name even as the ruthless Kalare unites with the Canim, bestial enemies of the realm whose vast numbers spell certain doom for Alera. When treachery from within destroys the army’s command structure, Tavi finds himself leading an inexperienced, poorly equipped legion-the only force standing between the Canim horde and the war-torn realm.

Steadholder Isana finds herself trapped in a city under siege by Kalare and his forces. The Canim have cast some sort of spell that turned the sky read and has filled the clouds with intangible monsters that can kill anyone who comes within reach of their clutches. This means that air travel is nigh impossible for the Knight Aeries and that the city is on its own. Fade protects Isana from an arrow but it is poisoned and he begins to die. Isana performs a very dangerous form of healing and during the process we learn what happened at the first Battle of Calderon where Isana gave birth to Tavi and Septimus died. Fade, now fully Araris, is healed and reveals his love for Isana and she returns it.

At the same time, Amara and Bernard team up with Lady Aquitaine, her 2 underlings from the first book and Rook, the woman controlled by Kalare. Lady Placida is being held hostage by Kalare and only Rook knows where. Everyone agrees to rescue Rooks little daughter while they rescue Placida. Once Lady Placida is rescued, her husband Lord Placida can unleash his forces against Kalare and help the First Lord. The rescue happens, the expected double cross from Lady Aquataine happens and Amara handles it all.

Tavi, now leading the Legion in the area of the Canim incursion, realizes that the Canim are divided between the warriors who are loyal to their War Leader Nasaug and the Ritualists who are loyal to Sarl, who we briefly met in the previous book. Tavi throws the Canim back and eventually breaks their spirit. However, he finds out that the boats were carrying the Canim nation, not just warriors, when he finds a Canim female with a newly birthed litter of pups. Tavi realizes that the Canim were not invading Alera but were fleeing their homeland.

My Thoughts:

Oh my goodness! Oh My goodness!! Oh My Goodness!!!

This is exactly what I want in my Epic Fantasy. How can this book be written by the same guy who writes that whiny loser Dresden? It must be a miracle!!!! Or Butcher is just that good of an author and knows what exactly to write for each genre his series is in. Give this man a cookie. Phhh, give him the whole box of oreos!!!!

Once again, this was my “lunch break”, “down time at work (hahahahaha!”) book and I found myself making excuses to read it outside of the normal parameters. Get to work 5 minutes early? No problem, just sit in the car and read this for 5 minutes. After work, let the car warm up and read until I’m ready to drive home. Heck, have my bookbag with me with this in it and sitting in a parking lot waiting for a Craigslist deal to go through, read this!

With this being my 3rd read of this book, there obviously weren’t any surprises. Yet I wasn’t bored in any way nor did I ever come to a section and feel like “oh, here we go, hang on until we get back to the good stuff”.

The story, the characters, how the plot unfolds, it just works for me. These aren’t Dune level of books, in that there are deeper, underlying themes and ideas, but for pure entertainment that is well written and stands up to multiple re-reads, The Codex Alera just can’t be beat.

The only thing to be aware of, which might be an issue depending on your personal psychological make up, is that each book usually only takes a week to happen and then there are 2 year skips between books. From the first book to this has been 5 years. But you don’t get 5 years worth of data about Tavi growing up. You get little snapshots. That doesn’t mean there is no character growth, you just get it compressed. It works well for me but I know that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

These are big books (this was almost 700 pages) but Butcher never gets bogged down. He skillfully keeps the story moving at a breakneck pace. Onward to the next book!

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

[Manga Monday] Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #4 ★★★☆☆

karekano4 (Custom)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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #4
Author: Masami Tsuda
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Words: 6.1K

 

Synopsis:

Chapter 13: We are introduced to a new character, Tsubasa. She’s been in the hospital but has had her eye on Arima for quite some time. She now vows, in true typical highschoolgirl drama fashion, to break up Miyazawa and Arima. She’s not subtle about it and Arima catches her in the act. Miyazawa realizes she is doing it because she is jealous while Arima is left wondering why his middleschool friend is acting so weird. Miyazawa is dealing with this while still being ostracized in her own classroom.

Chapter 14: Arima finally realizes something is going on between Miyazawa and all the other girls. Miyazawa makes him promise to stay out of it and let her handle the situation. Tsubasa continues her campaign to fight against Miyazawa, but all of Tsubasa’s friends start liking Miyazawa for how she handles the situation and they end up all going out for juice. Tsukino, the girl who has been uniting the class against Miyazawa, is forced to confront Miyazawa and shows her true colors. She also runs into Tsubasa who lays claim to the title of “Miyazawa’s Arch Enemy”.

Chapter 15: Several story threads about Miyazawa making both Tsubasa and Tsukino, while not exactly her friends, at least not her enemies.

Chapter 16: Arima reveals that he’s going to be super busy for the summer and won’t be able to hang out with Miyazawa for a month. Everyone gets angsty.

Extra Chapter: A story about aliens and humans and everyone accepting everyone else, blah blah blah.

 

My Thoughts:

Oh man, what do I say about this without sounding like a negative nancy?

This is a highschool romance drama written by a woman. As such, it isn’t in my usual area of enjoyment. It is meant for a person who is emotionally unsettled, or wants to re-experience that unsettled feeling again (why any adult would want to do that is beyond me). A teen or young adult will eat this up, as it will validate everything they’re experiencing. Man, I remember those days and you know what, I’m glad they are behind me. I don’t think there is anything wrong with manga like these, they just aren’t for me anymore.

I thought I could continue to read these, but I am having a much harder time than I expected. I’m going to try one more volume, but my hopes aren’t very high. I’ve outgrown these and there is no going back (thank goodness!)

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Academ’s Fury (Codex Alera #2) ★★★★★

academsfury (Custom)

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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Academ’s Fury
Series: Codex Alera #2
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 720
Words: 183K

 

 

Synopsis:

CodexAlera.fandom.com & Me

Tavi has managed to enter the Academy under the patronage of Gaius Sextus, the First Lord of Alera and is training to be a cursor. Despite facing bullying at the hands of other students due to his lack of furycrafting talent, Tavi has managed to make numerous friends among his classmates, such as Max and Ehren. Tavi is also serving as a page for Gaius Sextus. Isana has also come to the capitol to get her citizenship and join the Dianic league. Back at home in the Calderon valley, Doroga, the leader of the marat, warns Bernard and Amara of a new threat, the Vord. He tells them that one nest has been killed, leaving 200 out of a force of 2000 Marat. Another nest is in the Calderon Valley, and one of the queens seems to be heading towards Alera Imperia. Tavi is sent on a mission as a Cursor in training, to find the mysterious thief “Black Cat”, who has managed to circumvent various fury guards to steal things. Gaius Sextus falls ill, and Max is called to replace him. However, during a fight, Max is arrested and Tavi must break him out of Jail. Isana is also kidnapped. Eventually, Tavi manages to catch the thief, who is revealed to be Kitai, one of his Marat friends who followed him to Alera Imperia. Using her talents, Tavi breaks Max out of jail. Back in the Calderon Valley, Bernard is investigating reports of disappearances and goes to investigate Aricholt, the new Kordholt. However, it is completely abandoned, with the exception of a few children kept in a bunker underneath. The vord attack the holt, possessing many soldiers, and Garrison Legion is forced to hide in a nearby cave. The Canim Ambassador, Varg, shows Tavi the nest of Vord in the Deeps, and Tavi goes to warn the Citadel.

Bernard and Amara, along with Doroga and the remaining holders of Isanaholt, take refuge in a cave and fight off the Vord. Their situation looks hopeless and Amara agrees to marry Bernard since they are going to die the next day. Only they don’t die, they are rescued by mercenary knights led by none other than that scum Aldrix Ex Gladius. The Taken and the Vord Queen are destroyed.

Isana can’t get an audience with the First Lord (because he’s incapacitated) nor can she get a hold of Tavi (who is trying to run things, as he’s one of the few people who knows that Gaius is out of commission) and after a nearly successful attempt on her life, makes an alliance with Lord and Lady Aquitaine. They send the Knights Aeris to rescue Bernard.

Tavi is juggling trying to keep Gaius’s secret safe and figure out how to deal with the Vord AND the Canim. One of the Canim, a blood priest, has made an alliance with the Vord Queen in the city and they plan an assassination attempt on Gaius. Ambassador Varg, as the last non-Taken Canim, reveals the plot to Tavi and it is up to Tavi to thwart it. With help from Fade (who slips back into his role as Araris, legendary swordsman), Kitai and many legionnaires, Tavi stops the attempt on the First Lord’s life.

The Vord Queen, along with the Blood Priest, slip aboard a Canim vessel and head back to their land.

Gaius recovers and reveals that one of Tavi’s friends (Gael) is actually a spy for Lord Kalarus and the book ends with Gaius baiting a hook to draw Kalarus out before he is truly ready. Gaius sends Tavi to an archeological dig in the same area where the bait is being dangled. With Tavi now being a Cursor it’s time for him to begin truly working for the First Lord.

The book ends with Isana revealing to the readers that she is Tavi’s mother, not his aunt.

 

My Thoughts:

I have these Codex Alera books in ebook, paperback and hardcover. I’m currently reading the paperback editions, as I am using these as my “word read”. Very easy to throw one into my book bag and since it’s paper it doesn’t matter if it sits in the sub-freezing cold all day. Can’t do that with my kindle, sadly.

What that means is that I’m reading these books in dribs and drabs and not at a steady pace. However, much like Furies of Caldern, this takes place in just a couple of days. So while there might be a lot going on, there isn’t too much going on simply because of author imposed time constraint. I think everything happens in a couple of weeks here but the majority of everything immediately happens in just a couple of days. I rather like that to be honest, as it fits the 5-15 minutes I have to read when at work.

Considering this is my 3rd read of this book in 10 years and I still enjoyed it, I’m going to call this a good book. I don’t think I’ll read it again for another decade though. For some reason, Tavi the main character seems younger than I remember! (hahahahaa)

I enjoy this series a lot. I’m sure someone else could come along and list all the faults. I simply have no interest in even thinking like that. As long as the series stays this strong, I’ll be a happy and contented camper.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

[Manga Monday] Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #3 ★★★☆½

karekano3 (Custom)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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #3
Author: Masami Tsuda
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Words: 6.1K

 

Synopsis:

Miyazawa takes her two younger sisters over to Arima’s house and they go nuts planting sunflowers in the big yard. Asaba walks out of the house in just a bathrobe and starts needling Miyazawa. Once he sees what her little sisters are doing though, he starts helping them out. Miyazawa and Arima discuss the recent final exams and feel like their relationship has taken a toll on their grades. The next day at school the results are posted and both have dropped in the rankings. They are called to the main office and several of the teachers tell them to stop dating and concentrate on their schoolwork.

Miyazawa breaks out into her “home mode” attitude and tells the teachers they are wrong. When they begin to remonstrate, Arima steps in and says that they’re grades will improve so there is no need to worry. Miyazawa realizes that her goals have shifted from wanting to be Number One to wanting to be a real genuine person and that Arima wants the same and is supportive of that goal. The chapter ends with Yukino’s parents (Miyazawa) being called to a parent/teacher conference at her school.

Yukino relates how her parents reacted, which was for her dad to go all gung-ho in her defense, as he and Yukino’s mom were married young. Both of her parents promise to bring weapons to the conference and “fight” for their daughter! At the conference both sets of guardians and the 2 students are there. The teacher outlines his worries and asks the guardians to step in and prevent the relationship from interfering with the students’ academic life. Yukino’s dad pretty much tells the teacher to stuff it (very politely) as their policy is to let their children choose their own path. Arima’s Aunt and Uncle also say that Arima acting like a normal teenager is actually a comfort to them and they will not interfere. Yukino and Arima apologize to the teacher for their reactions to his statement and he admits he didn’t handle things in the best way, so peace is achieved and both of the kids realize they do need to concentrate on their studies.

It is Make-Up day at school, so both Yukino and Arima have the day off. Yukino heads over to Arima’s house and gets all flustered and girly when Arima tells her that his guardians won’t be there. So when she arrives she’s prepared for some sort of seduction. Only to find Asaba in the kitched cooking and acting like Arima’s house maid. Asaba failed most of his classes but didn’t realize today was Make-Up day, so they hustle him off to school, like parents of a not-particularly bright child. They end up in Arima’s room….reading. Yukino pesters Arima until he pays attention to her and they share another kiss. Yukino feels very grown up and Arima lets her know how much self-control he exerts when around her.

The girls of Yukino’s class are discussing her and Arima and another girl starts talking about how fake Yukino is and casting doubt into the minds of the other girls about whether Yukino is actually so good. She says that Yukino has captured Arima’s heart through false pretenses and causes the girls to turn against Yukino. Tsukino (the new character) begins a campaign of smear tactics and little by little turns the class against Yukino. Tsukino was head of her class in middle grade and resents that Yukino has eclipsed her. Yukino admits to herself that it bothers her but vows to keep on going and let the chips fall where they may.

 

My Thoughts:

Reading this, I was struck by how much I actually agreed with the teacher about the relationship between Yukino and Arima. Now, I completely disagreed about how he handled things, ie, calling them into the office and forbidding them from seeing each other, but I wonder/suspect if that is more a cultural thing. Tell an American he can’t do something and chances are he’ll just tell you to go to Tartarus as he’s an Independent Entity. With the Japanese being much more Group Oriented, the behavior of the teacher makes more sense. I would have talked to the parents alone and gotten their input first and foremost. But yep, I agreed with him that putting a highschool relationship before your grades is a big no-no.

I had to laugh when Yukino went over to Arima’s and they ended up reading together. Mrs B and I do that all the time and thankfully, we’re both content in that. I think a big part of that though is that we’re mature, married and a lot more confident about the other person then when we had first gotten married. So I totally understood Yukino’s reaction to it.

The introduction of Tsukino as a character and her “snake in the grass” approach is definitely very high school drama’y. Her campaign to turn the girls against Yukino, which works and happens in like 2 days, is sad in how much truth it contains about how easily kid’s minds are manipulated. I don’t remember what happens, so I have no idea whether she’ll end up like Asaba (starting out as an enemy and turning into a friend) or if she stays a nemesis. My goodness though, makes me glad I’m not a girl.

Overall, I enjoyed this a lot more than I was expecting but I think my one volume per month rule is helping in that regards. Not sure I could handle more than that and not burn out. My emotions, while not burning so bright, are steady. After the turbulence of my own teen and 20something years, I welcome that steadiness. I guess I am liking this series because it is helping me see how I have changed over the years and that just fascinates me!

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #2 ★★★☆½

karekano2 (Custom)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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #2
Author: Masami Tsuda
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback Copy

 

Synopsis:

Miyazawa and Arima continue their relationship but both are still dealing with putting up a fake persona for the public to see. Arima catches Miyazawa ostensibly reading Bridges of Madison County but that is just a cover for her reading a fashion magazine. Of course, everyone also thinks they are going out as a couple but the truth is they are just friends, even while having feelings for each other.

Miyazaw has decided that she will return Arima’s confession but every time she tries to confess to him, she gets interrupted. She is also wondering if Arima still likes her and just doesn’t have the courage to tell him how she feels. Arima asks her, again, for her answer to his confession and she runs away. She realizes that she is afraid of letting someone in to her life and decides that she will answer Arima. The next day in class she holds his hand and that is her answer.

2 months pass and the school festival begins. Both Miyazaw and Arima, being the top of their class, are on committees for everything and are as busy as can be. Neither know how to deal with being so busy and having a relationship. They realize that they can’t have a “normal” relationship and so must make what they have work. Once they realize that, things start to go much smoother for them.

The next chapter introduces Hideaki Asaba, one of Arima’s friends, who is also good looking, smart and popular. Miyazawa decides to introduce herself and Asaba cuts her off sharply. A war begins between them until Arima tells Miyazaw that Asaba is just someone he talks to. Asaba and Miyazawa meet and Asaba reveals that his interest in Arima is to use him as a magnet to attract more girls, as Asaba’s dream is to have a generic harem of girls around him at all times. Asaba plays on Miyazawa’s doubt about her worthiness to be with Arima and it shows in her behavior. Arima takes Asaba to task for hurting Miyazawa. Asaba and Miyazaw make up and become mutual friends and Asaba grows up a little by giving up his dream of becoming a Harem King.

The final chapter is a review chapter of how Miyazawa and Arima met, from Arima’s perspective.

 

My Thoughts:

This is definitely a manga that I can only take in very small doses. The amount of “emotions” swirling around is akin to a hurricane. And yet, it made me remember my first time of falling in love. I was 19 and from that point on, until I met and married Mrs B, I was a maelstrom on the inside, with chaos occasionally breaking out to reveal that inner turmoil. All I can say is thank goodness we don’t remain teenagers with hormones forever. You can’t sustain that level of emotion forever without burning out.

So I guess I’m bashing on this series and praising it all at the same time?

Arima, the male main character, is definitely not your normal male. He’s one of those feel’ers and this makes him a lot more vulnerable. Being of this bent myself, I really felt bad for him even while yelling at him in my head to man up and stop whining. What he needs is a mentor and I know that never happens in this series. That could be an interesting side of things in a shojo manga.

Now Miyazawa on the other hand is everything I expect from a teen girl. Even a wicked smart, determined one. She looks at Arima and turns into butter, a little pile of sighing, melted butter I might add. I’d have thought it was over the top except Mrs B has made it known that, no, this happens. So I just accept it as one of those mysteries of life 😀

The drama has ratcheted up already, with the introduction of Asaba and the war between him and Miyazawa. Thankfully, the friendship isn’t destroyed and Asaba turns into an ally. Friendship is much more important to young people than romantic interest even if they don’t think so. I like to see friendship and romance being allies and not enemies and so far the manga-ka is doing that dance rather well.

Speaking of the manga-ka, she does a LOT in the side bars of each page. She does little stick’ish figure type drawings of herself and things she’s interested in. It is funny little things and adds to the sweet, saccharine flavor of the manga.

★★★☆½

 

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AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004 Movie)

51vm6677rflAnyone with the reading skills of a 3rd grader could figure out the basic premise of this movie. But just in case there are any first or second graders who read my blog…..

This is a matchup that fans have wanted for years and years. Aliens fighting Predators, who will come out on top? And will Earth survive?

Quick and dirty synopsis. Weyland Industries finds a hidden pyramid in Antarctica and sends in a team to grab all they can before other corporations make their move. Unknown to anyone, the pyramid is a nesting ground for Aliens and a testing ground for young Predators. If the Predators kill the aliens, they get Predator Cred and Big Boy, err Predator, Pants. If they lose, the whole area gets nuked.  Everyone but one woman gets killed and she teams up with the lone surviving Predator to take down the Alien Queen. Predator dies, Alien dies, Human survives. The movie ends with a chest burster Alien coming out of the dead Predator’s chest, with a Predator set of mandibles, so some sort of Predator/Alien hybrid.

For the record, and to my everlasting shame, I own this on dvd. I really enjoyed it the first time I watched back in the day, as the action was almost non-stop. On this re-watch though, every glaring weakness shone as bright as the sun to me.  I don’t even want to get into specifics, as there are just too many and I don’t want to relive them 😦

This was an Action Movie, but even Action Movies don’t have to be brainless fluff. This wasn’t even fluff though, more like dryer lint. Dryer lint after running a whole load of jock straps through the dryer. Just gross. I’m actually tempted to throw this movie into the trash as I am NEVER going to watch it again.

I realize I haven’t said much, but my goodness, this movie just doesn’t deserve having anything being said about it. Except that there was a sequel, which even I acknowledged upon my first watch that it was one of the worst movies I’d ever watched. It made this movie look like an Oscar Nominee.

Next I’m planning on watching UP. Lashaan mentioned it in his Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020 post. I need a movie that will make me feel all the feelz.

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bookstooge (Custom)

Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera #1) ★★★★★

furiesofcalderon (Custom)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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Furies of Calderon
Series: Codex Alera #1
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 688
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia: With Spoilers Galore!

The story takes place in the Aleran Empire, which contains “crafters”, people who can control the elements: water, air, earth, fire, wood, and metal, through a person’s bond with an element’s fury.

A young woman named Amara travels with her mentor Fidelias as part of her graduation exercise. Amara is training to become one of the Cursori, messengers and spies for the First Lord of Alera, Gaius Sextus. They infiltrate a camp of mercenaries, when Amara is tricked by a watercrafter named Odiana and betrayed by Fidelias. Odiana is the lover of Aldrick ex Gladius, the greatest swordsman since Araris Valerian, a legendary swordsman who had been in the service of the Princeps of Alera, the First Lord’s late son. Amara escapes and makes contact with First Lord Gaius using her aircraft. He instructs her to go to the city of Garrison.

The story switches to a steadholt controlled by Bernard, a man who lost his wife and children and stays with his sister Isana, and their nephew Tavi who is furyless. Tavi finds that one of his sheep has gone missing. He and Bernard track the sheep when they are attacked by a Marat warrior. The Marat and the Alerans had fought a war before Tavi was born in which the Marat killed Gaius’ son, Princeps Septimus. The Marat are a warrior people who form tribes based on bonds with different animals, for example horses. In the fight, Tavi and Bernard kill the warrior’s war bird but not before Bernard is wounded. Tavi is running for help when a furystorm hits. While seeking shelter, he finds Amara and the two find the Princeps Memorial, a cave dedicated to Princeps Septimus. Bernard makes it back to his steadholt, where Isana uses her watercrafting skills to heal him. Bernard then finds Tavi and Amara and bring them back to the steadholt. Fidelias, Odiana, and Aldrick stay at the steadholt where they discover Amara and attempt to capture her. Amara and Tavi escape with Fade, a slave of the steadholt who is mentally challenged, and together they travel through the woods before Amara splits from the other two.

Tavi and Fade are attacked by Kord, the leader of Kordholt and a slaver. During the fight, Bernard and Amara attack Kord when Fidelias, Odiana, and Aldrick attack. Aldrick kills Kord’s son Bittan and after arriving, Isana floods the river. Bernard and Amara go one way; Tavi and Fade a second, and Fidelias and Aldrick another; Isana, Odiana, Kord, and Kord’s oldest son Aric are washed to Kordholt. Tavi and Fade are captured by a Marat Headman named Doroga. Odiana and Isana, captured by Kord, are locked away and Odiana is raped. Bernard and Amara continue to Garrison where they rouse the Legionares. Fidelias and Aldrick go to the Marat leader Atsurak, who decides to invade Garrison immediately. Tavi convinces Doroga to let him undergo a trial that can stop the attack on Garrison. Tavi faces the trial with Kitai, Doroga’s daughter, and wins, saving Kitai’s life in the process, and undergoing some sort of bond with her which changes the colour of her eyes to match his, although he does not understand the meaning of this change.

Isana and Odiana convince Aric to help them escape Kordholt, and they split up and head to Garrison. Tavi and the Marat head to Garrison to stop Atsurak. Bernard and Amara hold off the Marat, while realising their feelings for one another, and Isana arrives and hides. Tavi and Doroga attack and kill Atsurak, and Tavi reunites with Benard and Isana. They are attacked by Fidelias and Aldrick, who defeat Bernard and Amara with ease. Fade then attacks Aldrick, defeats him, and leaves him alive. It is hinted here that Fade is Araris Valerian. Fidelias throws Fade off the wall, attacks Tavi, and takes Aquitaine’s dagger.

Garrison survived the attack and Tavi is granted a scholarship to the Academy by the First Lord. Bernard and Amara become Count and Countess of the garrison, and Isana is given the title of Steadholder, making her the first woman ever to own a steadholt and gain citizenship through merit rather than marriage.

Fidelias and Aldrick return to Aquitaine, greeted by Invidia, Aquitaine’s wife and discover Aquitaine sleeping with Gaius’ wife Caria.

 

My Thoughts:

You know, I really wish I had thought of this “use Wikipedia” idea for my synopsis much earlier. Mainly for these Epic Fantasy books that are big bad bruisers and part of a collection that is huge. All right, I’ll try to make this the last time I mention that. Maybe that can be my New Years Resolution for 2020, don’t whine about not using Wikipedia earlier. I think I can do that! Hahahahaaa, yeaaaaaahhh.

I read my papercopy at lunch time at work and it took me from mid-October to now to finish it. That means I “should” be able to finish up the entire series next year just reading it at lunch and whenever I have conferences. Having the entire series in paperback means I can throw it into my backpack and not care about the condition it comes out in by the end. The hardcovers are on my shelf to look pretty.

With this being my third read of this book, it doesn’t pack quite the same punch as the first time. The revelations about several of the characters isn’t as dramatic nor is the tension the same. Given, it has been almost 8 years since I last read this, so a lot of the detail is missing from my memory, but certain big plot points did stick in my memory.

That being said, this story doesn’t lack. It is pure awesomesauce and even as a coming of age story for Tavi, he’s not a total idiot like most young characters in books today. He makes mistakes but he also matures (hey YA authors, grow the phrack up would you!?!? stop acting like infantile pieces of poop). Then add in that other characters range from their 20’s into being Seniors and well, they keep the story from devolving into what most YA is today. Not that I’d qualify this as YA in any shape, way or form. Ok, no more raging against YA for the rest of the review, I promise.

One thing that I really hadn’t noticed before was just how quickly everything happens. As in, the time frame within the story. It is just a couple of days. For an almost 700 page book to span only a couple of days means that a LOT happens. We jump around to several viewpoints but Butcher doesn’t commit the cardinal sin of being a jackass and giving us a chapter from every side character. We follow the main actors, good and bad. While I wished at times that he had followed a particular viewpoint a bit longer, he did do an excellent job of weaving them altogether into one big tapestry.

My only qualm is that one of the main bad characters get raped by another of the badguys. The rape isn’t explicit or graphic in any way nor did I feel like it was included for shock value. It didn’t make me feel uncomfortable beyond the fact that it happened. It just something to be aware of though. The rapist gets the justice he deserves at the end of the book thankfully.

Wow, this went on a lot longer than I expected when I first started writing. I’d say that me writing this much says as much about the book as anything. It is a great book and even on this third time reading I had a good time. Looking forward to the rest of the series as I get to them.

★★★★★

 

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[Manga Monday] Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #1

karekano1 (Custom)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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #1
Series: Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #1
Author: Masami Tsuda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Yukino Miyazawa is an average girl who works excessively hard to present a perfect social image. Her true identity is discovered by her rival, Soichiro Arima who blackmails her into helping him maintain his status as the perfect student. Their interactions cause Yukino to fall in love with Soichiro who likewise, discovers his true personality under his stoic facade. Soichiro begins to express angst in his new personality, believing he will become like his abusive parents. However, Yukino comforts him and Soichiro confesses his love to her in response.

There is a smaller second story about a young woman who hides because she is afraid and a young man who accidentally gets involved in her life. She begins to learn to not be afraid and he begins to learn to think about other people instead of just brushing them aside.

 

My Thoughts:

Given that this is my third time reading this you’d think I’d remember more beyond knowing it is a highschool drama. But nope, not a bleeding thing. So this was like reading it for the first time.

First off, I appear to have a soft spot for highschool drama, even while castigating it and rolling my eyes. Otherwise I can’t explain why I enjoyed this so much. Two 15 year olds filled with young pride and angst learning to navigate Life and thinking that nobody before them has ever encountered the same horrible problems that are currently destroying their lives. Hahahahahaa.

I am not expecting to be able to make it through the whole series even while I really enjoyed this volume. The second couple’s story I think sets the theme for the whole series. The two main characters and their issues and then side stories about ancillary characters.

Not a bad way to spend an hour or so.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)