November 7, 2014

300 Posts and Pandora Hearts

I admit it. I wasn't planning to post anything today, because I have so many things I'm supposed to be doing. But I happened to notice that I only had 299 posts. That just bugged me. I know, very silly of me, right? So here is post number 300.

To celebrate, I'll share one of my best finds from the last few months.

I would have to say the best find I have made in the realm of books is actually a manga series called Pandora Hearts. If you love Alice in Wonderland, this one just might be for you as there are constant references!

Don't click any of the links to images or there will be spoilers!

Image source

The first volume starts off with a mystery--what is 15-year-old Oz Vessalius's great sin? Who is buried under the mysterious stone cross? What is so special about the pocket watch hanging on the cross? When Oz is dropped into the nightmarish Abyss

and meets a cute girl with a temper, Alice,

Image found here.

it seems as if things are going to become fairly normal for a manga story. However, the plot is absolutely byzantine, with new mysteries worthy of Agatha Christie constantly being introduced and weaving into the others. Who is Alice and how did she become the "Bloody Black Rabbit?" Why are her memories shattered so that she has no recollection of anything but her name? Who is beheading members of the Nightray family? Why does Oz's father say that Oz should never have been born? And what on earth caused the Tragedy of Sablier?

Image found here

I could go on for paragraphs, but I will leave it for you to read and discover all of the mysteries and their truly surprising solutions for yourself.
I read the manga here

The characters are very interesting on their own, and the reader will soon learn that nothing and no one is what they seem! My favourite is Xerxes Break (Mad Hatter), who has as many layers as an onion, with a lot of odd, creepy, and endearing habits that make him into a real show-stealer.

Image found here

Image found here

Image found here

I will say, though, that this is a series I would recommend for people 14 and up. It is dark and sad and at times pretty gory and disturbing, especially later in the series. Some readers warn others not to read it because their hearts will be broken. I can understand that.

Image found here.

Also, my husband and I both agree that listening to the music from the anime version (it covers only a few volumes of the manga, which has 20 volumes) really adds to the reading experience. The soundtrack is so beautiful that The Precious asked me what ballet it is from, and my mama was sure it was the soundtrack from a blockbuster movie!

Image source

You can listen here. Be sure to listen to the last track first as it is the tune from the music box inside the pocketwatch and it really sets the tone for the whole series. "Will" and "Contractor" are both very good too. For just the gorgeous violin theme, listen to "Turn."
Pandora Hearts Original Soundtrack

So there it is. My 300th post and my latest book (series) recommendation. Almost all images come from the anime, which is worth watching too, because they're so nice and colourful. Hope you enjoyed it, and that you enjoy the series as much as I do.

September 4, 2014

Everybody Wants to be a Cat

July 1, 2014

Book Review: Fledgling by Octavia Butler

FledglingFledgling by Octavia E. Butler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Brief synopsis with no spoilers: A non-human wakes in a cave injured and with no memory. She hunts and kills animals with her bare hands/teeth and eats them raw until she is strong enough to get to a road and meet a young man driving a car. Upon biting him she is told that she is a vampire. She sets out on quest to find out what she is, who she is, and why she is all alone. But someone is out to kill her and everyone around her.

It is hard for me to figure out how to review this so I will stick with the problems I had with the book and the things I liked about it rather than dissecting the plot in detail. While I found it very hard to put this book down, at the same time I sometimes felt filthy for having read it.

Probable spoilers!

There is something very squicky about the multiple sexual relationships this little girl vampire has with humans who do not always even know that she is not a normal little girl at first. Perhaps it is normal for vampires who are still children to have sex with humans like crazy? But for humans it is not normal to have sex with what appear to be children. Yet none of them seem worried or grossed out or anything except the very first and he just keeps calling her jail bait. At least these encounters are not described in any detail.

I also found her relationships with her "symbionts" disturbing because they had so little choice in whether or not they became permanent blood donors/sex partners. Yes, apparently they each get one chance to walk away, but this is at the point that they are already addicted to vampire venom and willing to give up everything they have ever known to get it.

I liked that Shori was intelligent and strong (oh boy is she strong!) and that she was a person of colour. Yet that last bit...somehow the way she was a product of genetic engineering and the insane racism and anger it generated rung false to me. And that is a really important part of the story. I am not saying that in real life none of this would ever happen, just that to me it wasn't convincing in the story so it's a shame it wasn't better handled. Considering that they are at the heart of the mystery regarding Shori, I would have liked to see the Silk family fleshed out a little. It seemed like there were so many families thrown at us right at the end and even the main ones were pretty vague. The ending isn't really an ending (makes sense to find out that the author died before being able to write sequels).

I liked that this book forced me out of my comfort zone, but I am not sure that I really got anything out of it beyond some uncomfortable entertainment. I think I will try to see if I can find some of Butler's other work and give it a try because everyone seems to find her earlier work to be much better.

View all my reviews

June 17, 2014

This Sale is Hot, Hot, Hot!

The weather is toasty to the point of roasting, so we're having a...wait for sale! I know, it's awful, but it works for car dealerships. lol.
Check out some of the items that will be discounted during our

Pre-4th of July Sale-A-Thon!

Use Discount Code: 7414SAVE

Participating shops and their links here

In my shop you can use the code to get 20% off of any purchase $10 or more!

This sale will last until July 2nd (or July 5th in my case) so grab your oven mitts and snap up one of our *sizzling* deals.

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Oh No! I've Discovered Fanfiction!

I've been a Kuroshitsuji/Black Butler fan for several years now. As I can no longer afford to buy manga I am stuck at Volume 13. I have watched all of the anime, even the OVAS. Even that really weird fanservice one that has Sebastian leaning over and trying to take the viewer's hand, etc. I wonder, was I the only one who finds Sebastian sexy who was kind of creeped out by that thing?

Anyway, having exhausted every official resource, I have turned to fan art and fanfiction with an increasing intensity. I have been amazed at the amount of talent lurking out there, and admittedly also at the very weird and terrible things that some feel they need to inflict on the public. Just as it is incredibly exciting to find a writer who beautifully captures my favourite characters and invents fascinating scenarios for them, it feels something like a sacrilege to come across those horribly-spelled, half-punctuated tales that involve the author travelling back in time and becoming Sebastian's wife. And don't get me started about most of the "poems!"

Overall, the experience has been very positive. I have come to understand characters in new ways that give me insight into actual humanity. The depictions of Grell Sutcliff (my favourite), have been especially helpful in that respect. I feel as though I am starting to connect to some of the writers through the reviews and messages, though I am very shy at the thought of much interaction with people who are so gifted! They are my new celebrities, since I don't really have many "real celebrities" to lionize.

I have even been inspired to start writing my own fanfiction with my own original character--oh yes, there will be more about her later. I promise she will NOT be me, though she will share my favourite colour. And she will not be a Mary Sue, or Sebastian's future wife. I promise.

The problem with all of this is probably obvious to anyone already hooked on fanfiction. But in case you are not, let me spell it out. I had started a challenge to read 125 books this year on Goodreads and was pretty much on schedule. Until now. Now I am about 12 books behind. I am reading, but obviously, fanfiction doesn't count, no matter how well-written it is. I am in the middle of something like 7 books and almost never finish one. One reason is that I keep losing books before I can finish reading them (I am starting to think I will never be an organized person). The other is fanfiction.

The other problem is that most of these stories are published in installments. So the reader goes and gets all interested in the story and then it stops until the author has time to post more. Sometimes that never happens. Being left hanging drives me crazy! I know these writers are very busy and have many other things to do, so I'm not blaming them. I'm just expressing frustration.

If you are interested in venturing into the world of fanfiction, let me just issue one warning: make sure you understand the terminology before picking a story. For example, you will need to know what the word "yaoi" means! And "lemon." And if it says "non-con" that means rape. Knowing the terms can help you to avoid specific things that you don't want to read about or find stories that are about your favourite concepts. Expect some really awful stuff, but be prepared to be impressed as well. For me the journey has been worth it.

Do you read fanfiction? If so, do you have a favourite author you would like to share? Post your experience in the comments!