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The more I hear about the literary novel A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, the more it sounds like beautifully written fanfic. It’s about four friends, but it centers upon one of them who has a dark past. I read the wikipedia entry for more plot details, and it's just…so….over-the-top. “spoilerish?” ) I might flip through the book at the bookstore one of these days just to see how the writing is. I’ve heard the author in interviews and she is a very pleasant interviewee. I was pleased that everyone I’ve heard say her name basically didn’t mangle it.

Read an article, Evangelion, Depression and Why Hideaki Anno is the Lars von Trier of Anime, that is exactly about what the title says. I'm assuming I will be disappointed (possibly enraged) by the last movie, whenever it comes out.

I’m sick and tired of hearing commercials for the sci-fi podcast The Message in the podcasts I listen to. When I came across the article Fiction Podcasts Are Trying Too Hard to Be Like Serial, I realized why. I heard the first episode of Serial way back when (before it got huge) and did not like the format. So The Message was designed to turn people like me off. XD

I particularly enjoyed the November 27 episode of the Empire Film Podcast because the hosts geek out on the Captain America: Civil War trailer and there's just a lot of hilarious inneundo re: Steve and Bucky.
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Takao Riichi has written two books that have utterly delighted me in the past year. I read the first one sometime last year but never talked about it because I didn't think I could do justice to my love for it. But I just read another book that also made me squee in happiness, and I just need to share.

First, the book I just read. It's called Oni no ou to chigire (illustrated by Ishida Kaname), and it's a fantasy set in a world with oni. Back in Heian times an onmyouji had a child with an oni, and that half-oni kid was able to bond with oni and become their master. His kids inherited his abilities. Fast forward 1000 years or so, and the Yase family still does the same thing. The ability to bond with oni has been diluted over the centuries so not all kids born into the extended family have the ability. The ones that do bond with an oni and do missions assigned to them by the head of the family and his subordinates. The main character, Tokimori, is a timid kid who totally wished he was normal. Ever since he was small he was freaked out by the scary looking oni that were always around him, especially a particularly large oni that basically stalked him. Luckily, when he was five that big oni disappeared and he met the tiny oni that he would bond with, Yato. Because Yato is so small and weak, they get assigned the lamest missions when he turns 15 and begins doing them. This suits Tokimori just fine. He likes not having to kill people or provide people for his oni to eat. Yato, who grows a bit over the years but is still small, only requires a kiss as recompense for doing the missions. Yato is a talkative and adorable little thing who adores Tokimori. All oni have great affection for their masters, but Yato is fiercely attached. So when Yato's true nature is revealed (he's actually a really big, really powerful oni, the one that stalked Tokimori until he figured out how to shrink his size and conceal his power) he is desparate to stay with Tokimori. Tokimori, for his part, is upset at being deceived and is totally scared of big and powerful Yato. They have to work things out between them as well as deal with a threat that shows up later in the book. The details of the supernatural world don't quite make sense, but if you hand-wave such things away the relationship between Tokimori and Yato is worth it all. It's so, so sweet.

The book I read last year is called Ookami no tsumagomi (illustrated by Okigin Jou) and is about werewolves. In this world werewolves live as packs but are more or less integrated within human society. Most werewolves are mixed blood with humans and can't transfom into wolves.They have better senses and wolfy instincts, while pureblooded ones can actually transform. The main character, Ritsu, is not part of a pack. His ancestors had broken away from a pack and lived in hiding. Packs don't hunt down werewolves that leave, but they monitor them. They don't want random werewolves causing problems in human society and exposing their existence to the general public. Ritsu, like all unattached wolves, does not want to be monitored. He lives alone as his parents had died in a car accident. He's being harrassed by a fellow student at his university, who turns out to have werewolf blood and had been lightly monitored. That student leads the head of the local pack, Magami, to find out about Ritsu. Ritsu has a couple of secrets besides being of werewolf descent, and Magami finds out one of them. The way Magami finds out makes Ritsu despise him, but Magami has fallen for Ritsu. He "knew" the moment he met Ritsu that Ritsu should be his mate and sets out to woo Ritsu. Ritsu does not want to be with anyone, let alone the head of a pack. He also has another secret he's trying to keep...

This book has two elements that usually are big turn-offs for me. Both would be spoilers so I won't mention what they are, but the characters and the story really overcame those turn-offs. Magami is adorable as he courts Ritsu, and Ritsu's slow acceptance of Magami is sweet. It doesn't help that it's considered good manners to have wolf ears and tail out when in the company of other werewolves, so big bad pack leader has adorable ears and tail out when he comes visiting Ritsu. He wags! His ears perk up when happy! They flatten when he's not! Another hilarious bit is that he gets Ritsu to let him in by howling in wolf form outside on Ritu's balcony. He's pushy, but he takes care not to push Ritsu too far after the first encounter. The climax of the courtship is a really great moment. XD;

I’ve read and posted about other books by this author (about wolf gods, tengu, and their brides!), but these two books are nearly perfect to me. ♥♥

I’m disappointed that the oni book will probably never get a sequel and the werewolf book had a spin-off instead of a true sequel. I haven’t had the heart to buy the spin-off, even though I know the main characters from this book appear in it. I am happy that this author seems to get paired with very good artists. Nothing is worse than a decent story hobbled by crappy art.
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It never hurts to call companies to see if you can get a better deal. I recently looked at the phone/internet bill and was struck by how high it was, so I called the cable company for a price to switch internet over. I then put off calling the phone company to see how much just having landline service would cost because they have crap hours (something like 7:30-5:30 M-F!). But when I did? I found out that just landline isn’t all that cheap, and I can bundle internet with faster speed with landline service for a monthly price that's over $10 cheaper! It wasn’t worth switching to cable internet, but I will save over $100/year and get faster service by having made a 10-minute call.

Besides obsessively rewatching Natsume Yuujinchou episodes and continuing to watch the new anime (Witch Craft Works in particular amuses me even though it makes no sense), I've been rereading some books.

Mahoutsukai no shotaku and Mahoutsukai no kokuhaku by Tanizaki Izumi and illustrated by Rikuyu Chikako I bought because I’ve enjoyed other books by the same author and artist (particularly Shiawase ni dekiru), and I liked the premise. It’s about a young man whose parents died in an accident who gave up going to college and went to work to support his younger brothers. I love that premise (young dude has to raise his younger siblings/nephew/whoever after some tragic accident), but then throw in the young man’s former neighbor and first love showing up after years of no contact. He’s half-Japanese (and I think half-American?) and he’d moved to next door when the main character, Hitomi, was about 15. Jin, the neighbor, has a very bad and aloof dad and doesn’t go to school because he’d already gone to college (and beyond? Can’t remember now.) even though he’s the same age as Hitomi. Jin got really close to Hitomi’s entire family, calling Hitomi’s parents “Papa” and “Mama” and getting along with Hitomi’s younger brothers. He falls in love with Hitomi, and the two become a (secret) thing. Then one day Jin is taken to America by his father and never returns, despite promising he would. So when Jin shows up again, after 6 years, Hitomi doesn’t want to deal with him. Jin hadn’t known about Hitomi’s parents’ deaths and is devastated. He quickly hits it off with Hitomi’s younger brothers, but Hitomi doesn’t want to let Jin close again. Jin had been working on some important project his father had forced him to work on for some secret(?) organization in America, and he’d left as soon as he was done. Unfortunately, a member of the organization shows up (with bodyguards) to try to convince Jin to come back. Jin is very cold and nasty to the guy, but Hitomi is very nice to him which causes lots of fun situations where Jin wants to coldly get rid of the guy but doesn't want to tick Hitomi off. Hitomi’s brothers are adorable. They are very well behaved and very considerate, except that they compete to eat more food than each other. Hitomi doesn’t make a huge amount of money, so he has to be really careful with the finances in order to feed the bottomless pits that are his brothers’ stomaches.

It’s a sweet story. The biggest issue in the first book is for Hitomi to truly accept Jin back into his life. The second book has Hitomi face his future. There are hints that Jin’s father and the organization he’d been forced to work for are shady and possibly dangerous, so it’ll be interesting to see how much more shady and dangerous things will get and how they will mix with the sweet domesticity of Hitomi's home life. There’s a new book out I haven’t bought yet, but will be doing so in my next order.

Another set of books I’ve enjoyed is Kokui no zeirishi (The licensed tax accountant wearing black clothing) 1 and 2 by Umino Sachi and illustrated by Asou Kai. It’s about a licensed tax accountant who willingly works with companies connected with (or run directly by) yakuza. He goes to a company that buys and sells used cars. Mostly they get cars from a yakuza clan, of whom the president of the company is a member of. He isn’t an active member, though his father had been an important person in the clan. He’s a bit…lazy. He lives on the top floor of the company building and is always looking sloppy (but hot) in a yukata. The employees are a motley crew and their bookkeeping is a mess. The accountant has to straighten them (and the lazy president) out in more ways than one. I like the characters. The accountant is uptight, but doesn’t quite get to tsundere. The president is very relaxed most of the time, but then can be very manly when needed (but not in an overbearing way). My favorite bit? The accountant is saved by the president when he’s attacked at one point. The president says, “Who do you think you’re messing with? Some random licensed tax accountant? Or MY licensed tax accountant?” I laugh every single time I read that scene! The art is lovely, of course. I hope there will be more books…
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I’ve been reading the series Youma na oresama to geboku na boku written by Fushino Michiru and illustrated by Yuzuki Ichi (I’m up to book 5 now, will read the other four if my MIA order comes in or I give up and reorder the damn books...) and have been enjoying them, more or less. Haven’t felt a burning need to write about the series mainly because it hasn’t been awesome or crappy (nothing like pure love or raging annoyance to motivate one to share one's feelings XD). 

It’s about a very ordinary kid named Adachi Masamichi who is trying to get into college while supporting himself on part-time work. One night he gets hit by a car and is fatally injured. Instead of dying, he is saved by a passing demon named Shino who thinks his blood is tasty (I think? I can’t find the first volume so can’t verify all details…). Shino was forced into human form back in the Heian period when he fought against an onmyouji and lost, then was stuck in a pot for a thousand or so years until the pot broke in an earthquake. He was helped out by an old couple he met after the earthquake, managing to snag himself a proper human identity by feigning amnesia. When they retired he got their business as an antique dealer. He specializes in haunted antiques because he can deal with the demons/spirits/whatever that are causing problems for the owner of the items.

Shino officially takes Masamichi as an "assistant," but Masamichi’s main role is to be Shino’s food source* and servant (thus the title of the series). Shino also wants to cultivate Masamichi’s spiritual potential as he has the same unusually-colored aura as Shino’s former master. He wants Masamichi to eventually break the spell on him put on by his long-dead master so that he can regain his full powers and form as a demon. Only a human can break a human spell.

The first several books focus on a stand-alone mystery or issue in each, but in the later books a big bad emerges against whom they must fight. Masamichi is very...ordinary. He isn’t annoying or anything, but he doesn’t really do anything for me. Shino isn’t a bad sort, but he's not human and thus can be insensitive. He does firmly believe in his role as master to provide for his servant and takes care of Masamichi, he just doesn't understand human sensibilities. It doesn't help that Masamichi falls in love with Shino, but the nice thing about this series is that Masamichi is mostly so placid and Shino rarely gets all worked up (even though he's pretty possessive) so it doesn't get angsty or melodramatic (much). It's an issue, but it's not OMG HOW CAN I GO ON WITHOUT HIS LOVE???

The art is decent, but nothing to write home about. I like the characters. There are some very sweet moments here and there. Nothing is really annoying or truly ridiculous (besides the premise, but you have to hand-wave it if you're going to read BL, right?). I enjoy reading about the supernatural world depicted. At least up to where I've read, I would recommend this. Just…not in any jump up and down way. ^^;

*First Shino feeds on Masamichi's blood but then they stumble into sex as a way for Shino to feed. Can’t for the life of me remember how it happens, but does it matter? It's BL, it was gonna happen.
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So. I read a lot of Yoshihara Rieko. I suppose she's still best known for Ai no Kusabi, which I personally thought was crap. The series I've been following over the years are Kusare-en no Housoku (about a trio of childhood friends, two of whom are lovers) and Nijuu Rasen (about incest, among other things). I recently got the newest volume of Nijuu Rasen, and was quite dissatisfied. I raved about volume 6 two years ago, but it feels like the following two volumes aren't going anywhere. Things happen, yes, but the narrative doesn't feel like it's moving forward. There is a lot of whining by a lot of characters (the fall-out from the cool stuff that happened in volume 6), but the characters I care about (the main character, his brothers and his school friends) don't do much of anything. In fact, I don't think the school friends show up much. Instead we get lots of self-pity by others who could die for all I care about them. It feels like she's barely treading water, and it just drives me nuts.

A couple of months ago a new volume of Kusare-en no Housoku was published after a LONG hiatus. I was ecstatic when I found out and ordered it immediately. But when I read it? It felt like the story wasn't going anywhere. The new volume introduces a bunch of new characters, with one particularly irritating one that I fear will cause much grief and annoyance in the future. What I liked about this particular series (read my summaries of the first two volumes here and here) is the school life stuff and the relationship between the three childhood friends. The new characters are totally unrelated to school. Why are you bringing in more annoying characters when not everything has been resolved with the annoying characters at school??? It feels like a distraction to me. This volume did throw me a bone with the sweetest scene between the two lovers (with a really lovely pic I will have to scan when I can find my scanner…),'s not enough! I just wanted a continuation (and eventual resolution) of the drama at school, not to be shoved into a different situation. GAH.

I had previously bought the first two volumes of the Hidamari ni fuku kaze series, which I've seen described as somewhat similar to Kusare-en no Housoku. I was so starved of my lovelies from Kusare-en that I figured I'd give it a try, even though the cover is such a turn off for me (the main character looks bleah, and the guy who will be his lover has a braided ponytail--a fact drives me nuts for some reason). In any case, the books did nothing for me. The characters seemed completely 2D and I couldn't understand why the other guy was so into the main character. At first the other guy is very dog-like in the way he interacts with the main guy (happy-go-lucky and completely oblivious to how much the main guy doesn't care about him). Then suddenly he is all sexual and aggressive. The main guy is not a passive sort, yet he lets the other guy just be all sexual and aggressive, even though I got zero vibes that he was into other guy in that way. Oh-kay. I knew there'd be sex at some point since this was BL, but it still felt almost random. I couldn't get either of them at all. After I read the two volumes I longed for Kusare-en with the wonderful couple who seemed to have a real relationship built on trust and love and all that other stuff. My disappointment in the new Kusare-en volume was even worse after I'd compared it so favorably to this one. *sighs*

The sad thing is that Hidamari is still better than Ai no Kusabi. I can't believe how bad an experience I had reading AnK. I feel like throwing my copies away, but my aversion to throwing away perfectly good books prevents me for now.
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Holy shit! I got one of those recommendation emails from Amazon Japan. The cover art was pretty so I clicked the link…I'm reading the blurb and thinking…This sounds familiar. I look at the author and the name is in katakana…I sound it out and realize it's Lynn Flewelling! No wonder the blurb sounded familiar. I didn't make an immediate connection because the katakana versions of the names just didn't click. The particular book I was recommended was split into two parts, 1 and 2. Are there insert illustrations in these? I almost want to buy them because so pretty.

In other translated stuff news (to me), I didn't know that Castle Mango had been translated. So was Samejima-kun & Sasahara-kun!
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Anne of Green Gables is featured in a blog post at Publisher's Weekly called When a Cover Can Ruin a Book. My god, that cover is awful. The points in the post are excellent, too. I've seen criticism about the new cover for Sylvia Plath's Bell Jar as well.

I am enjoying all the hoopla surrounding Pride and Prejudice's anniversary. One of the best is the January 17 discussion on BBC's Arts & Ideas program (podcast available here). There's a modernized adaptation of P&P in a vlog format called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I've watched the first episode and found it engaging, but I'm waiting for the end to dive in.
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I was reading a novel featuring police officers which I enjoyed muchly, and it made me think about other novels with police officers I've liked. It led me to do the round-up below (with links to more detailed posts when they exist):

Kouban e ikou by Ioka Itsuki and illustrated by Sakuragi Yaya is about an officer assigned to a koban who gets involved with a contractor and the contractor's son. It's a pretty fluffy story, but I like the passionate young officer type and the art is pretty.

The Reload series by Ioka Itsuki and illustrated by Kunisawa Tomo (My post about the first three volumes here) is an ongoing series about a wild but very effective detective and a forensics specialist. Every so often the case featured in a book is good enough that I actually want to follow it, but what it comes down to is that I like the two characters and their relationship. There's seven books out right now, and it doesn't seem like it'll end any time soon. Or so I hope.

Mihitsu no koi-Keep Out-, -Break In-, and -Cross Over- by Himekawa Hotaru and illustrated by Mizuki Hasuno are about another pairing of a detective and a forensics specialist. I haven't read the third one yet, but the first two are fun. The cases are a bit over-angsty, but once again I just like how the two characters relate. This pair seem…a bit more mature compared to the Reload series. It helps that the detective is actually pretty responsible. He is saddled with subordinates and with keeping the forensics specialist (who is good at what he does but has no people skills) in line, while dealing with out-of-touch superiors.

Niizuma Deka by Miduki Mato and illustrated by Ebihara Yuri (My post about it here) is the absolutely silly story of a wild but effective detective who marries a rich and up-and-coming politician. Like, actually marries in a church ceremony (though legally the detective is adopted by the politician as there is no same-sex marriage in Japan). I want a sequel, frankly.

Fuson de yaban by Iwamoto Kaoru and illustrated by Enjin Yamimaru has pretty art and a premise I like even though (or is it because?) it's just so cliched. An uptight career-type (WTF do you call career-gumi police in English?) asks a former partner (a normal detective) for help and they "have to" play a gay couple as their cover. The detective is gay and had been (still is) in love with the career type, and he lets the play-acting go a bit too far at times. Yes, yes, cliched. But the art! So pretty! Also, the story ends decently.

Mahiru no tsuki by Ioka Itsuki and illustrated by Ebihara Yuri (My post on the first volume here) is about a former detective who quit the force because he was disgusted with the police after they'd covered up his former partner's crimes (including shooting him) and moves to Osaka. There, he meets a yakuza boss and ends up the boss's lover. He also becomes a private investigator. I reread this series quite a lot. The relationship between the two develops throughout the series, but the detective never loses himself in the relationship (like many supposedly tough-y toughs who turn into uke jello). The side characters are endearing. Also, the cases he takes on (which invariably have something to do with yakuza) are pretty interesting. Also^2, Osaka-ben! The drama CD for this is soooo good. I wish the entire series had been made into drama CDs.

Sekai no hate de matteite~Tenshi no Tsumeato~ and it's sequel Sekai no hate de matteite ~Uso to kaifu~ by Takatoh Ruka and illustrated by Yukifuna Kaoru (vol 1) and Chayamachi Suguro (vol 2) are about a former detective turned private investigator and his former partner who is still a detective. As I mention in my post about the books, the cases are bleah. The real meat in this is the tension between the two characters and the mystery of the unsolved murder of the PI's sister that caused the PI to quit the force. Oh, so delicious. Too bad the artist changed between volumes. I really want the next book (please let there be another book) because we get a tantalizing glimpse into the past at the end of volume 2.

Amai Mizu vol 1 and 2 by Kawai Fumiko and illustrated by Kitakami Ren are about members of the SIT (Special Investigation Team) of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. I've only read volume 1 but am looking forward to reading volume 2 (eventually...). Endou is a SIT member formerly in SAT (a paramilitary counter terrorism unit) who does not look forward to a new former SAT member joining SIT at the beginning of the book, Kuonji. (According to the book, SIT specializes in working on cases with hostages, thus does negotiation and the like. They do, however, also do missions to rescue hostages.) Endou does not like Kuonji. Kuonji likes Endou, but doesn't know how to get along with Endou. What I enjoyed from this book, besides the pretty art, is the depiction of the very hierarchical structure of the police and how much being a sempai vs. kouhai is a huge deal, even more than in regular Japanese society. The life in the dorms is fun to read about (though I'd never want to be in one--all this gotta do what your sempai says crap sounds awful). The way Endou learns to see Kuonji differently and how they develop a relationship works (it's not smooth, but it starts with them having to work together in a professional manner). Endou is one of those "guy" guys, very carefree and manly. Kuonji is a man of few words but much action. I like the combination, even if the SIT and SAT acronyms crack me up every time I see them.

S.S.SP by Yuuki Kazumi and illustrated by Norikazu Akira is about a wild but effective detective who becomes an SP (security police) officer, which I wrote a lot about in this post. What can I say? Stupid title, silly story, but lotsa fun. I really, really enjoyed this. Probably too much.

Fujourina kuchizuke by Himekawa Hotaru and illustrated by Nara Chiharu is a silly story about an SP officer who has to guard a VIP. My worthless post here is basically full of pics (and snark), because this is from Nara Chiharu's time doing good art and there is much eye-candy. There is also eye-rolling, but pretty art trumps much. This is possibly the silliest of the bunch because at least in the others the people seemed to be able to do their jobs decently. In this one the SP has to be pretty worthless for the plot to go anywhere. :P

Soooo...anyone have any recs for me? I love police BL. Would love to read more decent ones.
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Pure awesome: CATZILLA.

Not as awesome because nothing is as awesome as CATZILLA: I also heard a fun interview of a guy who wrote an article in The New Yorker last month about Mary Renault (listen here) that makes me want to go to the library to find this issue to read the actual article. I remember discovering Mary Renault in college and reading everything I could get my hands on. Ah, the memories...
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As someone who loves the companion animals genre (Pern, Valdemar, etc.), the summary of the Sirens Panel called "Women who Run with Wolves and Dance with Dragons" by panelist rachelmanija was fun to read.

Made me want to reread that Sherlock BBC/His Dark Materials x-over I read a while back…And look for more awesome HDM x-overs, because dæmons are so cool.

Holy crap, the response by a company to some idiot ranting about their "misleading" ads about pads is so awesome.

The space shuttle going through Los Angeles in pics and time lapse video: so cool.
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Moby Dick Big Read: I'm actually tempted to listen to this…I would've never picked up the book, but this project is rather cool.

Call Me Maybe for Choir and Orchestra: I like this song, I like covers, I love the precise enunciation of the singers, I just like the existence of this video. XD;

I want to see Ookami Kodomo Yuki to Ame, a new movie by the same director who did "Summer Wars" and "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time." Wolf children!!

A bunch of people play some 6-person starship game called ARTEMIS wearing random Star Trek uniforms, being snarky and kinda incompetent. It's super awesome.
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I have a terrible tendency to not remember author's names, so I am constantly surprised when I randomly come across an interesting book and realize that I've read a bunch of the author's books. Sometimes the surprise is good in that "Hey, I like her!" way and sometimes it just saves me money because I thought most of the author's books are crap. ^^;

I've recc'd this in passing before, but I came across it while fiddling with my order list: Tadashii koi on nayamikata by Watarumi Naho features one of my favorite situations, best friends where one friend has been in love with the other for a long time. The other one finds out by accident, the one in love tries to distance himself, things happen, and we get happily ever after. why i particularly liked it )

BTW, I just realized this...if you click to enlarge the cover image you will actually get text! Like, four or five pages worth! Sometimes a writer's style is just unreadable to me so I'm super excited now to be able to "browse" a bit before buying. XD;

Another book by the same author I can't recommend as highly is Tamaniwa koidemo. It's about a more introverted and otaku-looking guy pursued by a very outgoing and good-looking coworker who turns out to be an uber-otaku. It's pretty cute and I enjoyed it, I just didn't love it.

Romantist na rokudenashi is another one by Watarumi Naho I more or less enjoyed. This one is about a gay hair stylist who keeps having rather...tragic/dramatic romances. They end up being the fodder of his sister's massively popular novel series. Her new editor is a very polite and nice guy, totally not the hairstylist's type, but when they accidentally run into each other the editor is a lot more of a bad boy and aggressively pushes for contact. This kind of guy, sadly, is totally in the hairstylist's strike zone. There's some angsty stupidness that makes me want to headdesk, but it's dealt with appropriately. And the main character is kinda adorable, despite his problems.

By the bye, this is the book I was looking at that led me down this rabbit hole. It's on my to-buy list right now.
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Courtesy of NPR's Monkey See blog. To play it the right way, put down something for the stuff listed below somewhere, then click here. Or you could just click over and chuckle while sticking various words in the "titles." I particularly love the second one.

["1" OR "A"]
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I figured I should do a "I LOVE THIS" post because sharing the squee is always a good thing. So...the following are things I love.

Castle Mango volume 1 by Ogura Muku (art) and Konohara Narise (story) is a manga I picked up thanks to [ profile] wednesday_10_00 and OMG the cute is pure love. It's about a high school student who lives at the love hotel his mother runs (his father had run it until his death) along with his younger brother. They have themed rooms and a porn production decides to use various rooms for their movies. The director is a gay guy and the high school student gets it into his head that the director may have designs on his younger brother. So one night when the director is brought by his co-workers to sleep off major drunkenness the student decides to pretend they've had sex and guilts him into dating him. As a condition he wants the director to stay away from his younger brother. The director is a nice guy and vows to keep his hands off the student until the student is 18, but they do have interactions that bring them closer. Really adorable interactions that mostly emphasize intimacy rather than sex (sex =/ intimacy!). I so look forward to the next book. The student is one of those capable but not emotionally expressive kids, and he has a father complex. He wants to string the director along long enough to protect his younger brother, but finds himself drawn to the director. I worry about Konohara Narise springing a horrible turn of events later on as this series is so far mostly fluffy and sweet, but I'm going to classify my fears as just being a worrywart. Oh yes, and the art is fabulous. ♥

Merry Checker by Suzuki Tsuta is a spin-off of a manga I haven't read, Sangen Tonari no Tooi Hito. It's about a salaryman who runs a BBS-ish site where he writes about other people in a very perceptive and amusing manner. At a RL meet-up he gets to know a popular blogger who everything thought was a high school student (female), but turns out to be a very tall adult man. The story is sweet but not cloying. The salaryman and the blogger are both nice mature guys, dancing around their attraction to each other. The story doesn't fall into a lot of the genre cliches and just makes me feel warm and fuzzy. It is a bit shallow, but I can get behind this kind of shallow. My biggest complaint is that there should be another volume. I want to see them act adult and nice! And dorky with awkwardness and apologetic when they feel like they've hurt/offended the other person! The art is fabulous and the last panel of the manga ) is pure gold.

Switching to novels, Sore wa tsumi na anata no sei by Hagino Siro and illustrated by Natsume Isaku is something I reread quite often and had planned on summarizing because I love it so. Unfortunately I've become quite lazy lately (and it is LONG), so I'll just squee about it. It's about a high school student, Saiga, who is dumped by his girlfriend because she's fallen for some awesomely cool looking guy named Natsuki. He is incensed and goes looking for Natsuki to see for himself, and ends up falling down the stairs in front of him. And is confronted by a very good looking and very nice guy. He becomes a bit obsessed and basically stalks him. Except his stalking sucks and he's found out very quickly by Natsuki. They end up hanging out together. Saiga realizes over time that he's fallen for Natsuki, but Natsuki is very very very dense. Natsuki is used to keeping people at a distance because he's so good looking he's had people fawning over him his entire life, but isn't very perceptive when it comes to people he's let close. So Saiga has to make the first move. There is a lot going on in this quite long book (almost 300 pages) because Natsuki is dense and Saiga is spastic (and thus isn't the most efficient at getting what he wants). some things I really like about the sex ) Of course, the art is wonderful. Saiga is splendidly spastic in that way Natsume Isaku is very good at portraying in her manga.

Beauty & Ghost by Umino Sachi and illustrated by Isaka Jugoro starts off and ends hilariously. Sato Seiji is a salaryman who doesn't really like his job but feels pressured to do well because he's quite capable and is depended upon (and he's proud). He's even more stressed lately because of a younger employee, Sakaki Kouta, who he doesn't care for and is also quite capable. How does he deal with the stress? He finds kids in a playground and tells them scary stories. He is filled with unholy glee at the look of pure fear on their faces. He learns that Sakaki can't handle scary stories and is again filled with unholy glee telling scary stories to Sakaki and getting that white faced reaction. And get revenge for being a problem in his life. When he pushes Sakaki too far, not letting him cover his ears to avoid hearing any more scary stories, Sakaki shuts him up by kissing him. So cliched! But still so funny to read! The relationship develops over time with Sato being tsundere and Sakaki being one of those puppy-dog types. Very cliched but very funny.
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I was checking out reviews of The Tempering of Men, the sequel of A Companion to Wolves by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette. I wasn't planning on buying the book anytime soon as it's only available in hardcover (and Kindle), but now I don't really care to read it. Why? Because this book switches POV to three different characters, none of whom is the POV character of the first book. I get really attached to main characters and have a hard time switching, which is one of the big reasons I can't get into those really huge epics since there are tons of POV characters and I just can't care enough to keep track of them all. I even lose interest in sequels that feature the next generation because I'm so attached to the first one, or spin-offs because I'd rather read more about the original people (unless I actually like the spin-off people enough to that I can take the original mains be side-lined, which does happen on occasion). I suppose in this case I'll just wait for the third book to come out and read them all at once, just to find out what happens. :P
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Via [ profile] rachelmanija: SF/Fantasy YA novels with major LGBTQ characters

Via [ profile] monanotlisa: "Page Eight," "The Girl in the Cafe," "Boardwalk Empire," and the ubiquity of older male fantasies. The snark is beautiful to behold. Love the list of patterns in media, especially this one:

Male fantasies, like male hobbies, possess more social cache. Fantasy football is not looked down upon the way writing fanfic is. Reading spy thrillers is not considered as pathetic as reading Romance novels. So the shows that get made by the white dude creators and funded by old white money men, which express their interests and desires, end up receiving more acclaim from reviewers, more awards, more respect than other programming. This is in addition to the fact that more of that stuff is made in general to chose from.

Aaannd...More fanfic!

Generation Kill:

Noblesse Oblige by Alethia, AU in which Brad and Nate never met while in the Corps but do when Brad's a journalist and Nate's a politician. The emails are particularly fun.

Brad's Eternal Happiness in Four Three Easy Steps, by Ray Person by Alethia is just plain hilarious.

Aftermath, USA by [ profile] traveller, long fic in which Nate ends up a hero (long after getting out of the Marines) and is rather traumatized from it, but ends up getting what he really wanted. Rather tense and kind of angsty. I think I'm in a phase that prefers less tense and angsty fics, but this one was good enough to grip me.

Hey darlin', do you gamble? by [ profile] traveller is a shorter fic with a really neat twist at the end.

A hundred different things (within the measure of a day) by [ profile] noelia_g, Notting Hill movie based AU. Fun fun fun.


The Republic of Heaven by [ profile] blind_author, fusion with His Dark Materials, S/J, LONG and involved and wonderful. I love HDM fusions are so much fun to read, with the dæmons. XD; This one actually incorporates the TV show plot lines, changing as necessary to fit the world.

Faerie-Touched by [ profile] blind_author, S/J, magic!AU, Sherlock is Faerie-born, John is so without magic he's "anti-magic"...

Obvious; Or, Greg Lestrade Is Good At Detecting And Has Five Pounds To One That Sherlock And John Will Shag by the_arc5. I think the title is pretty explanatory. It's silly but amusing. I think it's worth reading just for this line. )

Performance In a Leading Role by Mad_Lori is a WIP AU in which John and Sherlock are movie stars who co-star in a movie where they are a gay couple. I know, very cliched. But the author does a good job of playing with the cliche and really showing the growing intimacy between the two. I have no idea if the film industry politics is in any way accurate, but I found it believable enough for the fic. I hope it ends well.

Fallen by mamishka, supernatural AU in which Sherlock is an Adept and John is his Guardian Angel....In the beginning. WIP, the author is following the TV episodes. The first episode is basically finished (epilogue left at this point).
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On the way home I saw a vanity license plate that said "Gaysha." At first I thought, "Is it a (bizarre) name?" Then I wondered if it was gay + geisha. I guess I'll never know...

Personally, I wouldn't read an e-book with a soundtrack. First of all, I don't like listening to any music when reading. Second, fiddling with the thing to adjust the music to match your reading speed sounds annoying. It'll be interesting to see if it takes off.

I've had fun going around reading reactions to Robert Lipstiche's article in the NYT, "Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope?" I first read [ profile] bookshop's reaction piece so my take might have been colored by hers, but the guy rubbed me the wrong way. :P
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[ profile] seperis writes about These Old Shades and Devil's Cub in a rather difficult to read but fun post and makes me want to reread the latter (not a fan of the former, the couple grate on me even if the actual plot is kind of fun). XDXD;

Assistance by dak, Sherlock BBC, AU, John is Moriarty's slave until he isn't. I am not that fond of slave AUs as they usually are super depressing or romanticize a horrible situation, but this one did good about providing an appropriately broken slave John who learns to have hope again.
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The Boy Who Lived Forever, an amazingly nuanced and non-sensationalized look at fanfic. Loved this paragraph:

Diversity: the fan-fiction scene is hyperdiverse. You'll find every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, age and sexual orientation represented there, both as writers and as characters. For people who don't recognize themselves in the media they watch, it's a way of taking those media into their own hands and correcting the picture. "For me, fanfic is partially a political act," says "XT." "MGM is too cowardly to put a gay man in one of their multimillion-dollar blockbusters? And somehow want me to be content with the occasional subtext crumb from the table? Why should I?"

At NPR's Monkey See blog: Romance Fiction And Women's Health: A Dose Of Skepticism critically looks at an essay by some psychologist/advice columnist/relationship guru. The last bit of the essay is eye-roll inducing. The last paragraph tells you all you need to know about what she thinks about romance fiction and women readers, despite her protestations to the contrary:

But I do think that if readers start to believe the story that romantic fiction offers, then they store up trouble for themselves – and then they bring that trouble into our consulting rooms. Sometimes the kindest and wisest thing we can do for our clients is to encourage them to put down the books – and pick up reality.

Also at Monkey See, a love letter to the Oxford Comma. I don't have the deep love for it that some seem to have, but I use it regularly. I'd be very sad if it stopped being okay to use.

Elmore Leonard is a fun guy to listen to in an interview. When asked about what he thought of the various adaptations of his books on BBC Front Row, he points to The Big Bounce as one he hated. It was made twice. The first time Leonard said it was the second worse movie ever made. When asked what the worst movie was, Leonard responded that he had just kept that slot open as there had to be a worse one...Only for the slot to be filled by the second adaptation.


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December 2015

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