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review 2020-01-22 03:29
Alice in the Country of Hearts: Love Labyrinth of Thorns (manga) story by QuinRose, art by Aoi Kurihara, translated by Angela Liu
Alice in the Country of Hearts: Love Labyrinth of Thorns - QuinRose

Upon ending up in Wonderland, Alice managed to convince Julius to allow her to stay with him at the Clock Tower. Julius gripes about Alice getting underfoot but doesn't put any effort into making her leave. Alice makes him coffee and gets irritated when he says he doesn't like it, but despite his complaints, he always drinks it, even if it's become stone cold. However, something suddenly changes between them. For some reason Julius begins avoiding Alice and acting cold and distant towards her. When she confronts him about it, he tells her to leave, so she does. Nightmare decides to step in and put both of their feelings to the test.

If Alice were a real person and I was asked to pair her up with someone in this series, I'd probably pair her up with Julius. He may not be the most exciting guy in the franchise, but he's generally emotionally stable and considerably less violent than most of the Wonderland guys. He's also the least likely to try to force her into anything.

In this one-shot, Julius knows that Alice has another world she calls home and worries the he'll get too attached to her and then she'll leave him. Alice, meanwhile, thinks that Julius considers her to be little more than an annoyance. Ace, who loves both of them, is on the sidelines trying to figure out how to get them to actually talk to each other about how they feel and what they're thinking. I have to say, I'm a big fan of Ace in caring and friendly mode. And hey, I'd be more on board with a threesome involving Alice, Julius, and Ace than Alice, Dee, and Dum.

Nightmare's solution to Alice and Julius's communication problem struck me as being a bit melodramatic and cheesy. There was a tower with a stairway blocked by thorny roses and everything. Julius had to act like some sort of fairy tale prince. I outright groaned when Nightmare explained what the thorns were and why they suddenly disappeared and were replaced by rose petals.

The overall pacing was good, and the story was nicely focused - no attempts to cram more franchise lore into the volume than there was time to handle. For example, Alice's unrequited feelings for her sister's fiance were only briefly referenced.

Aoi Kurihara's artwork was nice, but still nowhere near as appealing to me as Mamenosuke Fujimaru's, although Kurihara seemed to be better at drawing guns. Fujimaru's guns are laughably bad. As far as Alice x Julius volumes go, though, I think I prefer Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Clockmaker's Story over this. I recall the romance being more appealing, and it managed to work in more of Julius's backstory. Still, Love Labyrinth of Thorns wasn't bad.

Extras:

Two full-color pages, a two-page (or two single page?) humorous bonus comic (Ace is adorable), an artist afterword in comic form, and an 11-page preview of Devils and Realist.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2020-01-21 01:31
Alice in the Country of Clover: Bloody Twins (manga) story by QuinRose, art by Mamenosuke Fujimaru, translated by Angela Liu
Alice in the Country of Clover: Bloody Twins - Mamenosuke Fujimaru,QuinRose

Wonderland is a strange place where nothing works the way it does in our world. People have clocks for hearts, day and night happen at random, only a select few people have faces, and nearly everyone is armed to the teeth. Alice has become accustomed to it, for the most part, but she's still surprised to wake up and discover that the Country of Hearts has somehow moved and become the Country of Clover. She's relieved that the twins, Dee and Dum, are still around and as happy to spend time with her as ever, but a new ability they've acquired since moving to Clover leaves her feeling disconcerted: they can now instantly transform their kid selves into adults and back again.

Alice felt comfortable around them when they were children. Being around them when they're adults feels weird. She finds herself feeling emotions she doesn't want to, which brings her face to face with her secret fear, that the twins will find someone else they like more and abandon her.

This was similar enough to what I remembered of Alice in the Country of Clover: Twin Lovers that I initially thought I'd read it before. This is part of the reason why I write reviews - I was able to confirm that what I was remembering was a completely different volume and that, yes, their overall storylines were incredibly similar. In both volumes, Alice was embarrassed by her attraction to the twins in their adult forms and worried that they'd ask her to choose between them. If I remember right, Twin Lovers was more focused on the twins vying for Alice's affections. In Bloody Twins, the primary focus was on Alice's internal conflict and the twins were more instantly willing to share Alice.

I'm just not that wild about Dee and Dum as romantic partners for Alice. Yes, they're hot, but they're very childish, and the whole "twins in love with the same person and willing to share" thing is a bit squicky for me. Also, they're not terribly interesting as characters, either on their own or in terms of what they bring out in Alice. I can't imagine Alice choosing between them because there's nothing that sets Dee apart from Dum, aside from their hairstyles when they're in adult form.

Still, there wasn't anything really bad about this, and Fujimaru's artwork was attractive. I love the slightly metallic cover art - the colors look fabulous. Story-wise, I particularly liked the scene where Alice tried to put a stop to the twins' teasing by turning the tables and becoming the more sexually aggressive one for once (as expected, this backfired on her, although the twins' briefly flustered reactions were great).

I was somewhat disappointed and confused when I reached the last third of this volume and the story switched from Alice, Dee, and Dum to four different very short stories featuring Alice and other Wonderland characters. They weren't even all in the Country of Clover.

The first, "I Love You," was set back in the Country of Hearts and featured Alice fretting over Gowland and whether he really saw her and loved her as she was. The second, "Where Are You Going?," was back in Clover and starred Boris and Alice. Boris wanted to live together with Alice, while Alice resisted out of worry that he'd leave her if he really got to know her for who she was (Alice's fear of abandonment and worry that others wouldn't love her if they really knew her crops up a lot in the series). Of all of these shorts, this one was probably my most favorite. Boris was a sweetheart. The third, "Twilight," starred Alice and Vivaldi and was as yuri as this series ever gets, with Alice worrying about Vivaldi and feeling jealous of her king. It's too bad that there are no longer storylines devoted to an Alice x Vivaldi pairing. The fourth, "Egoism," starred Alice and Blood. Blood was his usual heavily flirty self.

All in all, the explanations about how the Country of Hearts and the Country of Clover work would make this a decent starting point for anyone wanting to try a Country of Clover title (if you're entirely new to this franchise, I highly recommend reading Yen Press's Alice in the Country of Hearts omnibus volumes first), and Dee and Dum lovers should definitely check it out, but it's not the best Country of Clover title out there.

Extras:

Four full-color pages at the start of the volume, two one-page bonus comics, an Alice in the County of Clover "fun facts" page that includes some extra info about the characters in Clover, and an 11-page preview of Young Miss Holmes. Also, the back of the volume includes a 4-panel comic.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2019-06-22 20:28
Moonlight Reader - towards the 500
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
Chocolat - Joanne Harris
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, Snoopy - Charles M. Schulz
The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes - Neil Gaiman,Malcolm Jones III,Karen Berger,Sam Kieth,Todd Klein,Mike Dringenberg
London - Edward Rutherfurd
Chaos: The Making of a New Science - James Gleick
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Other Stories - Lewis Carroll
The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
Ramses: The Son of Light - Christian Jacq,Mary Feeney

More essential books, by request. :)

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video 2019-05-07 22:01
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review 2019-04-27 17:09
.Insanity 3 : Circus Book Review.
Circus (Mad in Wonderland) - Cameron Jace

 

“My insanity is my sanity. I am both, but I am one. If any of this makes sense.”

 

After being locked in an asylum for killing her friends in a bus crash and not remembering who she is, why she did it or anything before the asylum it's fair to say Alice Wonder starts to question her sanity when she is approached by fellow inmate Pillar to help hunt down and find Wonderland monsters. That's the premise of the first two books, Wonderland characters we know wreaking havoc on the streets of London leading to the impending Wonderland Wars.

 

I love the idea of this series, it takes the idea of the weird and wacky Wonderland we love and runs with it, full tilt crazy. The second book ended with Alice really starting to question things when she wakes up and discovers she paralysed and that the 'reality' she thought was real is really a figment of her imagination to escape the awful truth. She really did kill her friends and Wonderland and its monsters are a way for her to bury herself in her mind.

 

“The world is such a useless place, that’s all I can think of now. It’s full of hypocrites, liars, and selfish people.”

 

My biggest worry about this book was that we would still be left in the dark about a lot of our main characters past and what's to come. In the previous books, and this one Alice is constantly talked about like she's not there, people know about her and her past but won't tell her because she has to discover it for herself.  After realising that there are 8 books in the series I got a little worried how long it would be before we found out anything.

 

So, pros and cons, we got get a bit more information, although still focusing on the villain of the week story we get a first real look at how Wonderlanders came into our world and their motives, plus finally we get a glimpse into who Alice is. This book is told via multiple view points thank goodness because we learn more than Alice does. The biggest downside, there felt like endless filler chapters that felt very repetitive. Joe blogs is waiting for some big reveal, a chapter back to Alice and then back again to Joe Blogs and still nothing is really happening. I get wanting to build suspense and for the character to be emerged in the crazy atmosphere but it felt so unnecessary.

 

Mad is beautiful,” I say. “It has its flaws, but when shared with the good-hearted it’s beautiful.”

 

This series still has some great potential and doesn't shy away from the madness, which really works in its favour. There is a lot of second guessing to be had, especially once the idea of her really being paralysed and in denial cropped up, but I feel like that plot thread is going to be under used and forgotten about. For me; it needs to cut the pointless two page chapters and get on with it. But despite that I still gave it 4 stars because I got about half way and suddenly found myself really gripped and wanted to keep reading on my lunch break.

 

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