[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 8 ★★★★★


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Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 8
Series: Yotsuba&! #8
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Opposites

Yotsuba & the Restaurant

Yotsuba & the Cultural Festival

Yotsuba & the Typhoon

Yotsuba & Watching the House

Yotsuba & the Festival

Yotsuba & Acorns

My Thoughts:

I read this sunday. I was feeling tired, stressed out and sick (probably from stressing out) and reading this was like taking a huge horse tranquilizer. By the end of the volume I was totally chill. I had been debating about whether I wanted to read this feeling the way I was but am I glad I did.

The picture I included this time was from the Festival Chapter. Yotsuba is helping pull a shrine and they take a break so she and her dad and some others are looking at the other portable shrines when Yotsuba sees the sumo wrestler. I remember laughing my head off the first time I saw this page and man, it hasn’t stopped being funny to me. The manga-ka has totally caught that innocent yet bold spirit of being a 5 year old.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Steal the Sky (Scorched Continent #1) ★★★✬☆


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Title: Steal the Sky
Series: Scorched Continent #1
Author: Megan O’Keefe
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 340
Words: 117.5K



Synopsis:

From Kobo.com

Detan Honding, a wanted conman of noble birth and ignoble tongue, has found himself in the oasis city of Aransa. He and his trusted companion Tibs may have pulled off one too many cons against the city’s elite and need to make a quick escape. They set their sight’s on their biggest heist yet – the gorgeous airship of the exiled commodore Thratia.

But in the middle of his scheme, a face changer known as a doppel starts murdering key members of Aransa’s government. The sudden paranoia makes Detan’s plans of stealing Thratia’s ship that much harder. And with this sudden power vacuum, Thratia can solidify her power and wreak havoc against the Empire. But the doppel isn’t working for Thratia and has her own intentions. Did Detan accidentally walk into a revolution and a crusade? He has to be careful – there’s a reason most people think he’s dead. And if his dangerous secret gets revealed, he has a lot more to worry about than a stolen airship.

My Thoughts:

I read this back in 2016. I wasn’t that impressed then, as I had some real issues with the story structure. I’ve been seeing lots of positive reviews for O’Keefe’s Protectorate series though, so wanted to give this series another chance. It was a smidge bit better, enough to bump it up half a star and to get me onto the second book, unlike last time.

Reading my review from ’16, I can still see what I meant. It just didn’t bother me the same way, as I was already familiar with the characters. I’ve also realized that I enjoy the “Lord and Servant” trope. Detan & Tibbs. Wooster & Jeeves. Whimsey & Bunter. It simply works for me.

I did find Detan to be more of a useless ass this time around than last. I rather dislike using pejorative body parts as descriptions for someone, but really, it seems to be the most accurate, universal fit. Tibbs was less involved than I remember while all the women (the rest of the cast) played a much more decisive role.

Upon some investigating, it turns out that O’Keefe wrote a prequel novel after she finished this series. If she had written that first, even if not published it, it would go a LONG way towards explaining some of the “familiar” banter between Detan and Tibbs and would give some weight to their obvious history in this book. In that same investigating I have come across enough issues that I have decided to not delve into the Protectorate series. Now I just have to hope she doesn’t tip me off a cliff with this trilogy.

Honestly, I can’t say if I enjoyed this more than last time. I certainly had much less “dislike” than last time though. I’m pretty ambivalent and this review definitely reflects that.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 7 ★★★★★


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: Yotsuba&! Vol. 7
Series: Yotsuba&! #7
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Telephones

Yotsuba & Respect for the Aged Day

Yotsuba & Fever

Yotsuba & Patissier

Yotsuba & Errands

Yotsuba & Taking Off

Yotsuba & The Ranch

My Thoughts:

Some of these chapters are longer than others. In Telephones, for example, Yotsuba spends the whole day playing string&cup telephone with the neighbors. It ends with a picture of Fuka (the 16/17 year old daughter) talking to Yotsuba’s dad through a window and her older college age sister walking in on her. The facial expressions are priceless and the manga-ka makes it crystal clear, without writing a word, that Asagi (the older sister) thinks shenanigans are going on. It’s just too funny.

Then you have chapters like Respect for the Aged Day where Yotsuba talks with her grandma on the phone for about 1 page.

The overarching theme for this book was visiting a farm. Yotsuba loves milk so much so her dad decides to take her to a farm. Jumbo is their transportation and Yotsuba’s Nemesis, Yando, invites himself along.

I’d like to talk about Yando for a minute. He doesn’t seem to get along with anybody so I’ve wondered how he’s stayed friends with Yotsuba’s dad. He and Jumbo definitely don’t get along and while Yotsuba’s dad is pretty laid back about him, Yando seems to try to push his buttons whenever he can. Maybe he’s just “one of those” friends? Whatever the case may be, and despite me not liking him, he does provide the necessary “edge” to this series.

The picture I’ve included this time was from the chapter where Fuka and her friend are practicing making cakes. They’re not happy with how it looks, so they let Yotsuba decorate it so they can tell their family it wasn’t them that decorated it. Yotsuba goes all out, hence her decision to include the last egg 😀

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 6 ★★★★★


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 & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 6
Series: Yotsuba&! #6
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Recycling

Yotsuba & The Bicycle

Yotsuba & Pottering Around

Yotsuba & Friday

Yotsuba & Milk

Yotsuba & Delivering

Yotsuba & The Bookshelf

My Thoughts:

My reading of Yotsuba has taken on a ritualistic aspect in my life. While these posts go up for Manga Monday, I read them the Saturday before. I wake up, peruse wordpress and deal with the various notifications and new posts. Then I start up Calibre, grab a Pina Colada Bang and sit down on the couch. I open my “Manga” review template in OpenOffice and begin reading.

I fill out each chapter heading in the template as I come to them in the manga and decide which picture I want to include. All the while I’m sipping on cold Bang and reading the antics of Yotsuba. It is soothing, relaxing and something I look forward too. Because I don’t do these every Monday the ritual doesn’t become over used and I can’t accidentally unleash Unspeakable Cosmic Horrors on an unsuspecting world. Of course, maybe a Yotsuba inspired Cosmic Horror wouldn’t be so bad?

Anyway, this volume centers around Yotsuba getting her first bicycle and her adventures. Some good, some bad. Yanda, the Arch Enemy, makes another appearance and Yotsuba enjoys eating her hamburger in his face while he has to make do with instant ramen.

One of the strengths of this manga are the supporting characters. I put this picture of her dad to show what kind of home life Yotsuba is growing up in. He’s super laid back and just is himself. At the same time he’s a very careful father. He’s one of the safety bungees that Yotsuba can bounce off of without ever knowing how close to danger she ever came. It is what you want in a parent.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Crown of Swords (The Wheel of Time #7) ★★★★☆


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: A Crown of Swords
Series: The Wheel of Time #7
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 727
Words: 296K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Elaida sends fifty Red sisters led by Toveine to the Black Tower to gentle any men learning to channel, under the impression that there will be at most two or three men who can channel. She believes that raising Egwene means the Aes Sedai in Salidar will return to her, since if they were serious in their rebellion, one of the more senior Aes Sedai would have been chosen. She has secret plans working among the rebels. In Alviarin’s presence she has a Foretelling that the Tower will be whole again and the Black Tower rent. Mesaana teaches Alviarin Traveling.

Sevanna, along with the strongest of the Wise Ones who can channel, prepares to attack those holding Rand. They attack and are driven back. Sevanna and her Wise Ones summon Sammael, who arrives with Graendal. Moridin (probably) watches. Therava brings Galina, who has been captured. Galina is named da’tsang. Sammael brings them an Oath Rod. He gives them something he claims will let them Travel. They use it and it spreads them everywhere. Sevanna takes the Wise Ones with her. Shaidar Haran watches.

Morgase urges Niall to help her take Andor back as soon as possible. He learns of the Seanchan, but is murdered before he can tell anyone. Valda takes control and pressures Morgase into sex. The Seanchan attack. Morgase is taken to Suroth, who is angered by her use of Suroth’s first name. Morgase renounces the throne and the High Seat of House Trakand. She is stopped from commiting suicide by Lini. Balwer takes them away.

Rand gives the Aes Sedai into the care of the Wise Ones, to Taim’s displeasure. He takes Asha’man bodyguards. They Travel to a point outside Cairhien, then walk the rest of the way. They are told that Colavaere has taken the throne. Faile and Berelain are both acting as Colavaere’s attendants. It is revealed that Colavaere had Meilan and Maringil murdered. Instead of sentencing her to death, Rand strips her of her titles and exiles her to a farm. She commits suicide. Rand learns Aes Sedai are in Cairhien.

Rand goes to Caemlyn, hoping to find Elayne, and learns Caraline Damodred and Toram Riatin are setting up in opposition to him. He learns there are nine Aes Sedai known to be in Caemlyn. He leaves Morr there. Rand sends the army gathered in Tear off to Illian with two of the Asha’man, Hopwil and Adley.

Back in Cairhien, Rand tries to send Berelain back to Mayene after an assassination attempt. Cadsuane arrives and tries to provoke him, asking if he’s started hearing voices. Idrien arrives from the school and tells him of Fel’s death. Rand tells Min of this and they comfort each other.

Perrin and Rand stage a fight over the Aes Sedai prisoners, to give Rand an excuse to send Perrin away, though in reality he goes to Ghealdan with Grady, Neald, Masuri and Seonid, as well as Wise Ones. Loial goes with one of the Asha’man, Karldin, to visit the stedding and guard the Ways.

Rand convinces himself that he raped Min and withdraws completely. She brings him out of it and makes him see sense. They admit their love for one another. She tells of a viewing of Rand and another man merging, and one of them dying. Rand goes to meet the Sea Folk, taking Bera, Alanna, Rafela, Faeldrin and Merana, putting Merana in charge of them. Min sees that they will be loyal to him. His ta’veren effect helps in the negotiations, with the Sea Folk giving away much. He leaves Merana and Rafela to negotiate and goes with Min to deal with the rebelling nobles.

Caraline recognizes Rand but says nothing. His ta’veren effect works on her and Darlin, who reveals he would be happy to support Rand, but feels he no longer has a choice. Cadsuane and several other sisters are in the camp, as is Fain, with Daved Hanlon and Toram Riatin, who, due to Fain’s influence, hates Rand.

Toram and Rand duel with practice swords This is interrupted by fog attacking the camp. One of the Red Ajah sisters present is killed. Rand uses balefire, causing Cadsuane to slap him and tell him never to use it again. Fain stabs him with the dagger from Shadar Logoth. Samitsu partially Heals him, but she says she believes he will die. Darlin carries him out. Min tells the full story of Rand’s capture and they return to the palace in Cairhien. Here, Flinn tries his Healing, sealing the wound away.

Rand wakes two days later, having been Healed further by Corele. Min tells him that Cadsuane is to teach him and the Asha’man something they need to know. He hears the army is almost on Illian, so he Travels to Bashere and his men. He takes them and the Asha’man directly into Illian, where the Asha’man set off all of Sammael’s traps. He chases Sammael to Shadar Logoth. Here he sees Liah. While Rand is attacking Trollocs, Sammael strikes at him and he loses the Power. A man, probably Moridin, arrives and helps Rand. They both use balefire, with the streams crossing, causing double vision. He drops hints that Sammael is at the Waygate then leaves, claiming plans will have to be abandoned if Rand is killed. The man didn’t use saidin. At the Waygate, Rand sees Sammael turn to look at Liah, who Rand balefires, as she is about to be killed by Mashadar. Sammael is then gone. On his return to Illian, Rand is pronounced King.

Moghedien is taken by Shaidar Haran to Moridin, who has two cour’souvra, one of them hers.

Elaida is woken by Alviarin, who tells her that Rand has broken free and twelve sisters have returned. Alviarin takes control of Elaida by threatening to reveal both this and the fact that sisters sent to the Black Tower. She orders some sisters punished for keeping angreal and others praised, in order to cause dissension amongst the Ajahs. Elaida visits Seaine and sets her looking for traitors, which Seaine take to mean Black Ajah. Seaine enlists Pevara on the search.

Egwene struggles for some control over the Salidar Hall, using the fact that Sheriam, Lelaine and Romanda can’t stand each other to occasionally get her own way. Talking with Siuan, she learns Sheriam has sent sisters to the White Tower and hasn’t told the Hall because she fears Darkfriends. It occurs to her that Elaida may have done the same. She feels Moghedien escape, which prevents her taking advantage.

Nicola tries to blackmail Egwene about pretending to be Aes Sedai before she and Elayne were raised. Egwene threatens her and Areina in the real world and in Tel’aran’rhiod. She talks to Melaine, Amys and Bair and reveals she is Amyrlin and warns them of Moghedien. She has visions of Gawyn and Mat.

Theodrin and Faolain swear fealty to Egwene. Faolain also tells her how much she dislikes her. Egwene sends them to see if anyone saw Moghedien escape. She tells Siuan it shouldn’t matter how strong in the Power she is. Romanda and Lelaine complain about Delana wanting to name Elaida Black.

Halima “heals” Egwene’s headaches.

Elayne and Nynaeve go to the Sea Folk to get help with the ter’angreal they are looking for. They recognize the description as the Bowl of the Winds. After no success in finding it, they send Birgitte to Mat to tell him he is to help them.

Mat gambles on horses, with Olver as a jockey. He sees Mili Skane, a Darkfriend, and follows her to Jaichim Carridin’s place. On the way he picks up a signet ring of a fox scaring birds. Sammael tells Carridin not to go after Mat unless he gets in the way.

Mat goes to see Tylin and leaves a note about Carridin. Her son, Beslan, takes a liking to him. Returning to the inn, Mat is attacked by a man in his room. Birgitte visits Mat, who remembers Birgitte from Falme, and they talk in the Old Tongue. They agree to keep each other’s secrets. They get drunk, which affects Elayne. On Birgitte’s return she tells Elayne that Mat wants an apology and thanks for rescuing them from the Stone. Aviendha and Birgitte both agree that he is owed an apology.

Mat annoys Elayne and Nynaeve by saying that it was nothing when they apologize. They promise not to demean him and to listen to his advice. He moves to the palace. Upon leaving, they are accosted by Setalle Anan, who refuses to believe they are Aes Sedai and takes them to the Kin. When they insist they are Aes Sedai, Reanne throws them out and threatens to spread their descriptions. Setalle recognizes one of them as someone she met, but the woman claims it was her grandmother’s sister. Elayne begins to think about the ageless look. They are attacked on the way back to the palace.

Mat is pursued and caught by Tylin. The girls set him watching the Kin. He attends a festival with Beslan and his friends, where they are attacked by beggars.

Elayne is brought before the other Aes Sedai, who threaten to punish her for talking to the Kin. When she learns Carridin is claiming her mother is arriving, she loses her temper and threatens the others, who realize she stands above them. She forces them to go and meet the Kin.

Moghedien tries to balefire Nynaeve but is put off by pigeons. Nynaeve’s boat and bodyguards are destroyed. She almost drowns, but gives in, thus overcoming her block against the Power, and survives. Lan pulls her out. They get married and she fetches the Windfinders.

They go to the Kin, who agree to take them to the store of Power-related objects. Mat arrives, having just found it himself. They thank Mat, who is told of Moghedien by Lan. At the store, they are confronted by Falion and Ispan. Mat saves Elayne from a gholam, which is injured by his medallion. It kills Nalesean during the battle. They return to the palace, where Mat uses his being ta’veren to make the Windfinders agree to go wherever Elayne and Nynaeve want. Mat goes off to find Olver with his men, Thom and Juilin. The Seanchan attack and he gets trapped under a wall.

My Thoughts:

This would have easily been a 5star book, especially storywise, if Elayne and Nynaeve weren’t in it. Everyone else seems to be growing up, even Matt, but those 2? Bitching, moaning, complaining and generally acting like people who I would gladly kill. Their storylines weren’t huge but as silly as it may sound, it ruined everything for me. Ok, maybe “ruined” is a bit strong, but when a book goes down a whole star because of one of the smaller plotlines, I call that a “ruin”.

Everything else was what made this series the wonder that it became. While Jordan tends to being a bit too verbose, even that doesn’t truly stand in the way of the story or the skill with which Jordan weaves the various plot lines.

This book puts me at the half-way mark for this final re-reading of the Wheel of Time series. I am glad I am doing this but like I’ve said in previous reviews, this will be the last time I read this. I just can’t deal with the way that some of the women act. Nor can I put up with the supposed good guys being no different, in essence, than the bad guys. All Nynaeve can think about is punishing the various people around her who annoy her or “insert reezons”. She thinks exactly the same as one of the Forsaken and it just disgusted me.

For such a long book, I’m having a remarkably hard time coming up with something to say. So I’m done.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Tale of Two Cities ★★★★★


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: A Tale of Two Cities
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 368
Words: 136.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

In 1775, a man flags down the nightly mail-coach on its route from London to Dover. The man is Jerry Cruncher, an employee of Tellson’s Bank in London; he carries a message for Jarvis Lorry, a passenger and one of the bank’s managers. Lorry sends Jerry back to deliver a cryptic response to the bank: “Recalled to Life.” The message refers to Alexandre Manette, a French physician who has been released from the Bastille after an 18-year imprisonment. Once Lorry arrives in Dover, he meets Dr. Manette’s daughter Lucie and her governess, Miss Pross. Lucie has believed her father to be dead, and faints at the news that he is alive; Lorry takes her to France to reunite with her father.

In the Paris neighbourhood of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Dr. Manette has been given lodgings by his former servant Ernest Defarge and his wife Therese, owners of a wine shop. Lorry and Lucie find him in a small garret, where he spends much of his time making shoes – a skill he learned in prison – which he uses to distract himself from his thoughts and which has become an obsession for him. He does not recognise Lucie at first but does eventually see the resemblance to her mother through her blue eyes and long golden hair, a strand of which he found on his sleeve when he was imprisoned. Lorry and Lucie take him back to England.

Book the Second: The Golden Thread

In 1780, French émigré Charles Darnay is on trial for treason against the British Crown. The key witnesses against him are two British spies, John Barsad and Roger Cly, who claim that Darnay gave information about British troops in North America to the French. Under cross-examination by Mr. Stryver, the barrister defending Darnay, Barsad claims that he would recognise Darnay anywhere. Stryver points out his colleague, Sydney Carton, who bears a strong resemblance to Darnay, and Barsad admits that the two men look nearly identical. With Barsad’s eyewitness testimony now discredited, Darnay is acquitted.

In Paris, the hated and abusive Marquis St. Evrémonde orders his carriage driven recklessly fast through the crowded streets, hitting and killing the child of Gaspard in Saint Antoine. The Marquis throws a coin to Gaspard to compensate him for his loss. Defarge, having observed the incident, comes forth to comfort the distraught father, saying the child would be worse off alive. This piece of wisdom pleases the Marquis, who throws a coin to Defarge also. As the Marquis departs, a coin is flung back into his carriage.

Arriving at his country château, the Marquis meets his nephew and heir, Darnay. Out of disgust with his aristocratic family, the nephew has shed his real surname (St. Evrémonde) and anglicised his mother’s maiden name, D’Aulnais, to Darnay.[6] The following passage records the Marquis’ principles of aristocratic superiority:

“Repression is the only lasting philosophy. The dark deference of fear and slavery, my friend,” observed the Marquis, “will keep the dogs obedient to the whip, as long as this roof,” looking up to it, “shuts out the sky.”[7]

That night, Gaspard, who followed the Marquis to his château by riding on the underside of the carriage, stabs and kills him in his sleep. Gaspard leaves a note on the knife saying, “Drive him fast to his tomb. This, from JACQUES.”[8] After nearly a year on the run, he is caught and hanged above the village well.

In London, Darnay asks for Dr. Manette’s permission to wed Lucie, but Carton confesses his love to Lucie as well. Knowing she will not love him in return, Carton promises to “embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you”.[9] Stryver considers proposing marriage to Lucie, but Lorry talks him out of the idea.

On the morning of the marriage, Darnay reveals his real name and family lineage to Dr. Manette, a detail he had been asked to withhold until that day. In consequence, Dr. Manette reverts to his obsessive shoemaking after the couple leave for their honeymoon. He returns to sanity before their return, and the whole incident is kept secret from Lucie. Lorry and Miss Pross destroy the shoemaking bench and tools, which Dr. Manette had brought with him from Paris.

As time passes in England, Lucie and Charles begin to raise a family, a son (who dies in childhood) and a daughter, little Lucie. Lorry finds a second home and a sort of family with the Darnays. Stryver marries a rich widow with three children and becomes even more insufferable as his ambitions begin to be realised. Carton, even though he seldom visits, is accepted as a close friend of the family and becomes a special favourite of little Lucie.

In July 1789, the Defarges help to lead the storming of the Bastille, a symbol of royal tyranny. Defarge enters Dr. Manette’s former cell, “One Hundred and Five, North Tower,”[10] and searches it thoroughly. Throughout the countryside, local officials and other representatives of the aristocracy are dragged from their homes to be killed, and the St. Evrémonde château is burned to the ground.

In 1792, Lorry decides to travel to Paris to collect important documents from the Tellson’s branch in that city and place them in safekeeping against the chaos of the French Revolution. Darnay intercepts a letter written by Gabelle, one of his uncle’s servants who has been imprisoned by the revolutionaries, pleading for the Marquis to help secure his release. Without telling his family or revealing his position as the new Marquis, Darnay sets out for Paris.

Book the Third: The Track of a Storm

Shortly after Darnay arrives in Paris, he is denounced for being an emigrated aristocrat from France and jailed in La Force Prison.[11] Dr. Manette, Lucie, little Lucie, Jerry, and Miss Pross travel to Paris and meet Lorry to try to free Darnay. A year and three months pass, and Darnay is finally tried.

Dr Manette, viewed as a hero for his imprisonment in the Bastille, testifies on Darnay’s behalf at his trial. Darnay is released, only to be arrested again later that day. A new trial begins the following day, under new charges brought by the Defarges and a third individual who is soon revealed as Dr Manette. He had written an account of his imprisonment at the hands of Darnay’s father and hidden it in his cell; Defarge found it while searching the cell during the storming of the Bastille.

While running errands with Jerry, Miss Pross is amazed to see her long-lost brother Solomon, but he does not want to be recognised in public. Carton suddenly steps forward from the shadows and identifies Solomon as Barsad, one of the spies who tried to frame Darnay for treason at his trial in 1780. Jerry remembers that he has seen Solomon with Cly, the other key witness at the trial, and that Cly had faked his death to escape England. By threatening to denounce Solomon to the revolutionary tribunal as a Briton, Carton blackmails him into helping with a plan.

At the tribunal, Defarge identifies Darnay as the nephew of the dead Marquis St. Evrémonde and reads Dr Manette’s letter. Defarge had learned Darnay’s lineage from Solomon during the latter’s visit to the wine shop several years earlier. The letter describes Dr Manette’s imprisonment at the hands of Darnay’s father and uncle for trying to report their crimes against a peasant family. Darnay’s uncle had become infatuated with a girl, whom he had kidnapped and raped; despite Dr. Manette’s attempt to save her, she died. The uncle killed her husband by working him to death, and her father died from a heart attack upon being informed of what had happened. Before he died defending the family honour, the brother of the raped peasant had hidden the last member of the family, his younger sister. The Evrémonde brothers imprisoned Dr. Manette after he refused their offer of a bribe to keep quiet. He concludes his letter by condemning the Evrémondes, “them and their descendants, to the last of their race.”[12] Dr. Manette is horrified, but he is not allowed to retract his statement. Darnay is sent to the Conciergerie and sentenced to be guillotined the next day.

Carton wanders into the Defarges’ wine shop, where he overhears Madame Defarge talking about her plans to have both Lucie and little Lucie condemned. Carton discovers that Madame Defarge was the surviving sister of the peasant family savaged by the Evrémondes.[13] At night, when Dr. Manette returns, shattered after spending the day in many failed attempts to save Darnay’s life, he falls into an obsessive search for his shoemaking implements. Carton urges Lorry to flee Paris with Lucie, her father, and Little Lucie, asking them to leave as soon as he joins.

Shortly before the executions are to begin, Solomon sneaks Carton into the prison for a visit with Darnay. The two men trade clothes, and Carton drugs Darnay and has Solomon carry him out. Carton has decided to be executed in his place, taking advantage of their similar appearances, and has given his own identification papers to Lorry to present on Darnay’s behalf. Following Carton’s earlier instructions, the family and Lorry flee to England with Darnay, who gradually regains consciousness during the journey.

Meanwhile, Madame Defarge, armed with a dagger and pistol, goes to the Manette residence, hoping to apprehend Lucie and little Lucie and bring them in for execution. However, the family is already gone and Miss Pross stays behind to confront and delay Madame Defarge. As the two women struggle, Madame Defarge’s pistol discharges, killing her and causing Miss Pross to go permanently deaf from noise and shock.

As Carton waits to board the tumbril that will take him to his execution, he is approached by another prisoner, a seamstress who had been incarcerated with Darnay. She mistakes Carton for him, but realises the truth upon seeing him at close range. Awed by his unselfish courage and sacrifice, she asks to stay close to him and he agrees. Upon their arrival at the guillotine, Carton comforts her, telling her that their ends will be quick and that the worries of their lives will not follow them into “the better land where … [they] will be mercifully sheltered.” He is guillotined immediately after the seamstress, a final prophetic thought running through his mind.

My Thoughts:

When I read this back in 2014, I was looking more at Sydney Carton and his story of redemption of a wasted life. I was impressed beyond words. This time around, I wanted to focus more on Charles Darnay, the french noble who renounced his family name and their degenerative lifestyle.

What a difference that made and sadly, not for the better. I’m still giving this 5 stars because it is a great story, but Darnay is no hero and really, if his part could have been even smaller it would have been better. He starts out with potential, defying his cruel uncle and giving up all of his inheritance and even his name to move to England to make an honest living working. Considering that the working man was below even a slave in the French Aristocracy’s view, Darnay was making a huge sacrifice.

Unfortunately, but true to form, Darnay still acts like an Aristocrat. When he receives the letter from the bailiff of his former estates, he takes it as his responsibility to free the man, even though Darnay had renounced his estates and had nothing to do with what was going on. He acted like an aristocrat when he chose to not talk about this to his wife or his father-in-law and skipped off to France. He acted like an aristocrat while in prison and just letting things happen. By the end, I was pretty disgusted with Ol’ Charley and if it weren’t for sympathy for his wife, I’d have told Sydney to let him die and scarper off to safer climes.

Lucie, Darnay’s wife IS a sympathetic character as is her father, the former Bastille prisoner. Dickens did an admirable job of painting them in a light that was gentle and soft but without making them weak and ineffectual.

Finally, we come to Madame Defarge. What a monstrously evil woman. Her bloodlust to kill Darnay and any that surround him was made all the more reprehensible by her backstory. While revenge against Darnay’s uncle is more than understandable, Madame Defarge perverts even that bit of possible sympathy by the audience by trying to kill Lucie and her daughter and Lucie’s father, all because they are associated with Darnay. Dickens shows in no uncertain terms that hatred cannot be reasoned with. You cannot talk someone out of hate, you cannot educate someone out of hate. Hate like that can only be changed supernaturally, by the power of God. It’s just not within us humans to be able to fix something so fundamentally broke within us.

This is exactly why I like Dickens so much. Every time I read his books I get something different. And I still enjoy the book too 🙂

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Mairelon the Magician (Magic and Malice #1) ★★★★☆


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Title: Mairelon the Magician
Series: Magic and Malice #1
Author: Patricia Wrede
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 185
Words: 80K



Synopsis:

Kim, a 16 year old street rat is realizing she can no longer hide the fact that she’s a girl. She takes on a final job of spying on a market magician to earn enough money to give her time to figure out what she can do. She is caught but instead of being punished, Mairelon offers her a job of being his apprentice, as he is a real magician and not a street performer.

It becomes obvious to Kim that Mairelon is MUCH more than just a magician though. His references to his time abroad, his connections to various muckety-mucks make Kim aware that Mairelon has been working for the government on the highest levels. And he’s some sort of lord as well.

The story centers around the recovery of the Saltash dinner ware. A platter, a bowl and 4 balls, which when combined, give the user the ability to compel their victims to tell the absolute truth. The British government wants it but will settle for it not falling into French hands. Kim and Mairelon are chasing down the platter in this story and have lots of adventures.

In the end, it is revealed that Kim has a natural affinity for magic and Mairelon adopts her as his ward so he can live in the same house to teach her magic without scandalizing “Society”.

My Thoughts:

I originally read the Mairelon duology (I’ll be reading book 2 in a month or so) back in the 90’s when the Science Fiction Book Club released a hardcover omnibus edition. I still own that baby. I then re-read the duology in 2000 when I was beginning my record keeping. I won’t be bothering to include a link, as it consists of just naming what genre the book was in 😀

This is that elusive middle grade book that is written well enough to still be read and enjoyed by adults. Wrede seems to excel at that particular skill.

Fun, enjoyable, easy on the brain (well, except when Mairelon or somebody else starts monologuing and connecting all the dots) and a sure fire pleasure for fans of Regency Era England. My guess is that Wrede was aiming for “Jane Austen with Magic for Kids”. She hit the mark, that is for sure. Since I’m a big Austen fan, this worked fantastic.

Unfortunately, the one downside to this book, which isn’t really a big thing, is the cover. That is supposed to be Kim on the cover, in her “street urchin boy” disguise. While it is tough to see in the small picture I include here, when I look at it in a larger format, it becomes really horrible. Kim has this squinty, “something” look where her eyes are just messed up. It’s unpleasant to look at. Plus, the byline of “Is it possible? Could his magic …. be real?” is just so wrong. Magicians are a part of the fabric of society in this book, so it would surprise anyone that Mairelon was a real magician.

Those are just quibbles though, because I feel like complaining about something. If you’re a fan of Austen, Regency Era England or Middle Grade Fantasy, go try this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 5 ★★★★★


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 & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 5
Series: Yotsuba&! #5
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 210
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Cardbo

Yotsuba & Helping

Yotsuba & Yanda

Yotsuba & Stars

Yotsuba & Rain

Yotsuba & Sunny Skies

Yotsuba & the Beach

My Thoughts:

Another great volume. Yotsuba meets her nemesis, Yanda for the first time. While he’s supposed to be a working man, he reacts to Yotsuba at her level. A grown man acting like a 5 year old is amusing for a chapter. Azuma, the manga-ka, realizes when enough is enough and doesn’t try to push it more than that one chapter though. Smart man.

The first chapter deals with Ena and Eimura (neighbor girls) doing a class project where they are creating a robot creature out of cardboard. Yotsuba barges in on them and thinks that Eimura is a real robot. I’ve included the picture that made me laugh the hardest in the volume.

The rest of the chapters were light hearted and fuzzily warm. Perfect to read on a day when it is snowing outside. I have to admit, I am (almost) surprised at just how well this series is standing up to a re-read. Sometimes something is cute because it is new. This is genuinely cute and continues to be so.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 4 ★★★★★


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 & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 4
Series: Yotsuba&! #4
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Challenges

Yotsuba & Fishing

Yotsuba & Dinner

Yotsuba & Bloom of Youth

Yotsuba & Newspapers

Yotsuba & Tsukutsukuboshi

Yotsuba & 4-Panel Manga

My Thoughts:

Last week felt like a cheese grater on my soul kind of week. I went into the weekend with no reserves and not even the ability to process anything emotionally. I was tired and hurting. While I can’t say that reading this miraculously cured all of that, reading this was like putting balm on a hurting wound. It doesn’t heal it, but it makes it feel better and helps with the healing process.

The first chapter is called Yotsuba!& Challenges. In the picture I’ll be showing you can see a fan translated it as “Duels”. Both are correct but I have to admit, I think Duels works better. Yotsuba and her dad are playing rock paper scissors and there is a pot and a rolled up newspaper in between them. Whenever they play rock, paper, scissors, whoever wins has to grab the paper and try to hit the other over the head while the loser has to grab the pot and put it on their head as protection. Yotsuba’s dad cheats outrageously and she gives up in disgust. Then she duels her dad in badminton and eventually her dad and Jumbo duel each other in badminton (hence the racket and birdie in her pocket). It was fantastic.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Lord of Chaos (The Wheel of Time #6) ★★★☆☆


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 & Bookype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Lord of Chaos
Series: The Wheel of Time #6
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 976
Words: 405K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Trying to find a way to cure stilling, Nynaeve probes Siuan with the Power. She senses something cut. They learn Siuan can sense Moghedien through an a’dam, but she can’t make her feel anything or touch saidar. Elayne has made an a’dam without the chain, which they can use on Moghedien in her Marigan disguise without arousing suspicion. An embassy is sent to Caemlyn to deal with Rand. Min goes with the embassy. Perrin senses Rand needing him and sets off to find him, with two hundred Two Rivers men. While arranging a meeting with the Aiel, a peddler tells Gawyn that Morgase is dead, killed by the Dragon Reborn. Aginor and Balthamel wake with new bodies and are told by Shaidar Haran that they are now called Osan’gar and Aran’gar. Aran’gar is female, which does not please her. Demandred receives instructions from the the Dark One in Shayol Ghul. Demandred, Graendal, Semirhage and Mesaana make plans. Sammael and Graendal taunt each other. Semirhage tortures an Aes Sedai.

In Amador, Morgase tries to get help from King Ailron. Pedron Niall says she should use the Whitecloaks. She sees Paitr Conel, an Andoran who was helping her escape, hanged for being a Darkfriend. She believes that this was just an excuse and the help he was giving her was the real reason. She gives in and signs a treaty allowing the Whitecloaks access to Andor.

Elayne has been making new dream ter’angreal and teaching Sheriam’s circle about Tel’aran’rhiod. They go to the White Tower to read reports on what Elaida is doing. The Aes Sedai fall into a nightmare, from which Elayne and Siuan are forced to rescue them, though no one believes Elayne went in deliberately. Elayne visits Andor, where she is seen by Demandred.

An ambassador from the White Tower arrives. To put her off, she is told more time is needed before a decision can be made. Nynaeve overhears this and, using need, she and Elayne look in the World of Dreams for an object to force them to help Rand. After first been taken to the Tower, they go to Ebou Dar, where they find a bowl-shaped ter’angreal that Elayne believes will fix the weather.

Theodrin gets Nynaeve drunk to try and clear her block. Angry about this and other things, Nynaeve accidentally Heals Logain of his gentling. She repeats the process on Siuan and Leane, though they are only partly Healed. The Yellows are surprised by her use of all Five Powers. They grab her and make her demonstrate it repeatedly. Leane and Siuan visit her later to ask her to try again because their low strength means they will not be very influential. Aran’gar arrives and stays with Delana.

In Caemlyn, Rand practices the sword in front of sycophantic nobles, with anyone willing to fight him. Bashere tries to stab him, to make the point that Rand doesn’t need to use a sword, and is stopped only by Rand’s quick actions.

Mazrim Taim arrives in Caemlyn and claims to want a compact between them, but agrees to merely serve when Rand refuses. Rand wonders about his sanity and realizes he doesn’t like him. Taim gives Rand one of the seals, which Lews Therin’s voice insists he must destroy. They travel to a nearby farm where there are candidates to learn channeling. The first one tested, Damer Flinn, is capable. Rand learns that several of the High Lords of Tear are now rebelling against him.

Mat sees two men attacking a small boy. He beats them and takes the boy, Olver. He starts preparations to go to Illian.

Bael and Bashere take Rand to an inn, where Verin and Alanna are staying with several Two Rivers girls on their way to be Aes Sedai. Alanna bonds him as her Warder. She tries to use this to make him obey her, but is unable and he shields both of them. He frightens the girls when he tells them he is the Dragon Reborn. He gives Taim permission to go looking for new recruits.

Egwene gets drawn into Gawyn’s dream while supposedly keeping away from the World of Dreams. She learns this can only happen with emotion so strong it leaves no room for much else. She realizes that she loves Gawyn.

The higher ranked Andoran lords visit Rand. Dyelin tells him about Tigraine, and he finally realizes Tigraine was his mother. The lords threaten to rise against him if he tries to keep the throne. Sammael offers a truce, which Rand refuses. Sammael claims Rand accepts it, using this to gain some control over Graendal. Rand Travels to Cairhien.

Rand sets Berelain to running the city. The Wise Ones take to her, much to Egwene’s confusion. Berelain is allowing noblewomen to form societies based on the Maidens. Rand visits a school he has set up, where people are inventing all sorts of things. He talks to Herid Fel about Warders and the seals. On his return, Egwene asks for help with the Wise Ones. He refuses.

Ogier arrive and ask about Loial. Rand convinces them to tell him where the Waygates are. They go to Shadar Logoth to place a trap for Shadowspawn around the Waygate there. Sulin talks to one of the gai’shain as though she is still a Maiden. To make up for this, she becomes a servant. One of the Maidens, Liah, disappears. They spend the rest of the day looking for her before Rand Travels to the Two Rivers, where he leaves the Ogier.

Vanin finds murdered Tinkers. That night, one of the Forsaken drops Aiel into Mat’s camp, but they are killed before they can seriously harm him. Mat gives Olver a job carrying messages, mostly as an excuse to keep him around and ensure he is fed and looked after.

Egwene goes into Cairhien and sees the Tower embassy. She also meets Gawyn, who is convinced Rand murdered Morgase. She makes him promise not to harm Rand. They reveal that they love each other, and Egwene says she’ll bond him as her Warder.

Whitecloaks try to kill Rand, killing one of the Maidens instead. Rand hangs them, but sends one to Pedron Niall, to tell him that he will hang for it. Egwene goes to Rand to try and tell him how to behave with the Aes Sedai. They arrive while she is still there, so he hides her. He tells them he can feel when they embrace saidar, though Galina doesn’t believe he can sense it. Later, Rand senses a Gray Man and holds him in Air. Taim arrives and kills it. He tells Rand that a student, Narishma, has the spark, and would channel without being taught. Rand is sent a letter from Queen Alliandre, which is very friendly.

In Tel’aran’rhiod, Egwene is summoned to Salidar while Rand watches secretly. She enters in the flesh and goes in one night, after first having the Wise Ones beat her for lying to them. When she arrives, she is told she is to be Amyrlin. After a little opposition, mostly formalities and Sitters trying to show they won’t be pushovers, the Hall agrees. As her first decree, she raises Nynaeve, Elayne, Faolain and Theodrin to full Aes Sedai. Rand sends Mat and the Band to Salidar to fetch Elayne. Aviendha goes with them to make up toh to Elayne. Lan arrives in Salidar in secret.

Egwene is told about Moghedien and agrees that they can learn from her. She says there will be no more putting people out of the Tower and that anyone will be allowed to enter if she can. Egwene learns from Moghedien how to Travel, though she had already figured it out herself.

Mat arrives and Egwene uses the presence of the Band to force the rebels to move towards Tar Valon. Elayne and Nynaeve go to Ebou Dar with Mat, who has promised Rand that he will stay with Elayne. Aviendha tells Elayne of what happened between her and Rand and offers to let Elayne beat or stab her. Elayne decides that she doesn’t want to. On the way, Elayne goes out of her way to irritate Mat. The girls move into the palace, while Mat moves into an inn run by Setalle Anan.

Min and the Salidar embassy arrive in Caemlyn and she goes straight to Rand. She sees Melaine and reveals that she is to have twin daughters. Min gives her opinions on the Aes Sedai that came with her. Rand goes to warn Taim away from them. He tells the students that they are to be known as Asha’man.

Perrin arrives and talks to Bashere, who is very much annoyed about Faile’s marriage. He threatens to take her away, and Perrin threatens him in turn. He stands up to Deira, Bashere’s wife, and they decide that Faile is old enough to marry. Perrin makes Faile promise not to spy on Rand. One of the Aes Sedai in the embassy is attacked by Aiel. They go to tell Rand that it is unacceptable and that they will do as they wish from then on. He has no idea what they are talking about and tells them things will remain and they are to show respect. He dismisses them. Bera and Kiruna arrive and take control. This takes the number to thirteen, the number traditionally used to gentle men. Rand flees to Cairhien, taking Min, Perrin and Loial. He tells Merana to follow with no more than five others. Bera and Kiruna ignore this, taking nine.

In Cairhien, Rand tries to put the Tower embassy off while Berelain stalks Perrin. Eventually they grow tired and kidnap Rand, claiming that Rand has gone and they are fed up of waiting. When Dobraine reveals Meilan and Maringil have been murdered, probably on Colavaere’s orders, and Berelain reveals Rand has left his sword, Perrin realizes that the Aes Sedai have taken him and resolves to get him back. Sulin stops acting as a servant.

The Aes Sedai punish Rand for trying to escape and killing Warders when he saw Min being beaten. Sevanna visits to discuss her arrangement with the Aes Sedai. She has her Wise Ones kill one of their own, who is against her, and blames the Aes Sedai to get the Shaido to fight them. Perrin takes Maidens, siswai’aman and Wise Ones with him. On the way, he talks to wolves, who are furious to learn of Rand’s capture. They are also joined by the Two Rivers men and the Aes Sedai from Caemlyn. Sulin and another Maiden, Nandera, fight for leadership of the Maidens. Sorilea and Amys talk to discuss leadership of the Wise Ones.

They catch up with the Tower Aes Sedai, who are besieged by the Shaido. Led by Perrin, they charge. Taim and the Asha’man arrive through gateways. In the confusion, Rand breaks through the shield on him, stilling the three still holding it. He wanders around, shielding and knocking unconscious any Aes Sedai he sees. Gawyn escapes. The area is secured and the Shaido dispersed by the Asha’man who simply butcher them. Taim forces the Salidar Aes Sedai to swear fealty to Rand as punishment for bringing more than six.

Egwene releases Logain, who goes to join Rand. Moghedien is rescued by Aran’gar and goes to Shayol Ghul. Herid Fel is killed by a gholam.

My Thoughts:

Thank goodness for good ol’ Toral. He has saved me years of work (at least it feels that way) AND if I ever get the itch to re-read this series, I can just read his synopses and be done.

This book is where I start to struggle with the series overall. It also appears to be the same book that I struggled with in the past. Back in ’11 I only gave this 3 stars. I didn’t rate it in 2000, but that is because I wasn’t rating anything back then. In fact, as I type this, I still don’t know what I’m going to rate this. I guess I’m going to write what I write and then add the star rating after the fact.

I was really torn about this book. There were times where I was almost jumping up and screaming “Yes! AWESOME!!!!!” and other times where I just stopped reading because I was so angry/annoyed/disgusted. This was a big book, at over 400K words. In fact, it is the longest book in the series so far.

The best part of the book, for me, was the battle at the end where everyone comes together to rescue Rand from the Aes Sedai and the Shado Aiel. The ashaman, the male version of Aes Sedai that Rand is gathering, just rip apart the Shado. Jordan aptly describes it like a meat grinder and I completely got that vibe from how he describes it. It was horrifying and yet perfect for the situation.

The bad parts though? Just ugh. The quote I did from my Currently Reading post really expressed it well. Unfortunately. Egwene was about the only woman who didn’t act like a complete bitch for the entire book. It was beyond aggravating to read such characters. Then the guys were just stupidly “take charge and protect” and ignoring just what the girls were turning into (powerful Aes Sedai able to take care of themselves). Nobody actually talked to each other, they just told and did and commanded. Everybody. And of course, it didn’t turn out well for anyone. You can’t tell the Dragon Reborn what to do. You can’t tell the Amyrlin Seat what to do. I think what really got me though was the little bit about Perrin and Faile. They are married but Berelain, a woman who is a queen of a small country is chasing Perrin. Perrin is doing his best to avoid her but somehow pisses off Faile in the process. But neither Perrin nor Faile will talk to the other about what is going on and it gets worse and worse. Stubbornness, pride and stupidity were on display at all times.

I don’t want to read that. There is no need for it. It also reinforces my decision to not re-read this series again. I will finish this series this time, but never again. Which means that I’m going to give this 3 stars again.

Rating: 3 out of 5.