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text 2017-08-14 21:56
Just arrived via ILL
The Drops of God 2 - Tadashi Agi,Shu Okimoto

Ooh, it's time for more wine tasting education and characters communicating via wine. Based on the end of volume 1, this volume will probably feature a contest between affordable French wines and affordable Italian wines.

 

I happened to look at the last page while getting the ISBN, and there's a character I don't recognize sadly admitting that she has amnesia. Will volume 3 show her regaining her memories via wine tasting? I suspect I'll eventually find out.

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text 2017-08-13 15:54
Library books!
The Age of Scientific Sexism: How Evolutionary Psychology Promotes Gender Profiling and Fans the Battle of the Sexes - Mari Ruti
The Last Alchemist in Paris: & Other Curious Tales from Chemistry - Lars Ohrstrom
God's War - Kameron Hurley

I just wanted to share the pretties from the library. They don't have much of a theme, do they?

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review 2017-08-11 04:52
Review: Children of God (The Sparrow Book 2 of 2)
Children of God - Mary Doria Russell

Children of God is the sequel to The Sparrow which I loved.  I liked this one a lot, but not quite on the same level.  In the first book, I was addicted to both the characters and the story.  With this book I was still addicted to the characters, and I did enjoy the story, but I wasn’t as thoroughly caught up in it. 

 

The format is similar to the first one.  We have two main time periods set several years apart, each of which continue from where the two main time periods in the first book left off.  There’s also a third time period that we see only occasionally, taking place further in the future.  In the first book, the mystery of how we got from point A (the earlier time period) to point B (the later time period) was a large part of what held my interest.  In this book, the story was more straight-forward despite the different timelines.  They were more like separate stories that converged, rather than two ends of the same story as in the first book.  There were some surprises, and it held my interest well, but I wasn’t reading it with that same desperate desire to fill in the missing pieces. 

 

Some of the new characters introduced in the book were less likeable, although I did love how the author gave some of the characters more shades of gray.  I think there were arguably more complex characters in this book, and I liked that.  I also liked that we got to know some of the characters on the alien planet better.  On the other hand, I missed the banter and fun that appeared more frequently in the first book.

 

I guess this review is more a comparison of the two books than a review of this book on its individual merits, but it’s hard not to compare them and it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to read this book without having read the first one.  The author does provide the necessary back story, but I think the emotional buildup from the first book goes a long way toward creating the investment and interest necessary for this book.  I probably would have rated this lower if I hadn’t read it straight after the first.  I’m giving it 4.5 stars on the sites where I can give half stars, but I had a very hard time deciding whether to round up or down on Goodreads.  I decided to round up, based on my enjoyment level as I read it.

 

Next Book

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins.

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review 2017-08-08 18:45
The Lost City of the Monkey God
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story - Douglas Preston,Bill Mumy

 

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story is not my normal cuppa, but came to me highly recommended. I'm glad that I reserved the audio at my library.

 

The story was enjoyable and educational, but I was slightly disappointed at the time spent actually exploring. The beginning of the book goes into previous expeditions to areas near this city and the problems faced due to the fact that Honduras can be a very dangerous country. Not only due to the insects, snakes and other poisonous creatures, but also because of drug cartels.

 

The brief portion that involved the actual exploration was fascinating. Imagine going into an area completely untouched by mankind in 500 hundred years. How exciting! However, the actuality of exploring such an area means exposing oneself to thousands of dangers from extremely deep mud, insects of all kinds, snakes and even jaguars, to name just a few.

 

There was another brief section talking about the problems with other archaeologists and academia throwing shade on this expedition, some of them doing so with no REAL knowledge of what went on, how LIDAR worked and what was found.

 

Lastly, and the part I found most interesting, was what happened to many of the explorers after they got home and that is: Leishmaniasis. OMG. This is a disease, (actually many diseases and symptoms, grouped under one name), which is carried by tiny sand flies. The havoc this disease can wreak is almost unbelievable. This led to another section of the book which spoke about new world diseases and how they affected the Americas. There is talk of how some of the early civilizations disappeared and how that may have been caused by parasites and diseases. I found all of this fascinating but extremely scary. Most especially when it was mentioned that cases of Leish have now been found in Texas and the speculation about how that is because sand flies are moving northward due to climate change.

 

What I found most surprising is that many of the explorers that were diagnosed and treated for Leish, jumped at the chance to go back to the site. I can only assume that they were CRAZY!

 

I enjoyed this book and I learned a lot about Honduras and its history. I recommend The Lost City of the Monkey God to anyone interested in learning more about Honduras, the city and the history of the world, in general.

 

*I checked out this audio from my local library. Libraries RULE!*

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review 2017-08-03 12:54
The Drops of God (manga, vol. 1) story by Tadashi Agi, art by Shu Okimoto, translation by Kate Robinson
The Drops of God 1 - Shu Okimoto,Tadashi Agi

Shizuku Kanzaki is the son of Yutaka Kanzaki, a world-famous wine critic. Ever since he was a child, Shizuku was exposed to a variety of sights, smells, sounds, and tastes, all the things he’d need in order to properly appreciate wine. Unfortunately for Yutaka Kanzaki, it backfired. The relationship between father and son became strained, and Shizuku eventually went to work for a beer company without ever once tasting a drop of wine.

Shizuku has been estranged from his father for two years when he learns of his father’s death from pancreatic cancer. His father left a will describing 12 great wines and one legendary wine called “The Drops of God.” Shizuku can only inherit his father’s property if he is able to correctly identify the wines and their vintages before the end of a one-year time limit. Not only that, but he has a rival: Issei Tomine, “the prince of the wine world,” a famous young wine critic. Issei convinced Yutaka to adopt him a week before his death, so Issei is legally Yutaka’s son and also gets a chance at inheriting everything.

Issei and Shizuku’s first task is to identify and describe a particular wine set aside by Yutaka. The person who comes up with the most appropriate description will get to live in Yutaka Kanzaki’s mansion. Although Shizuku drops his glass before trying the wine, something about its appearance and smell brings to mind a wisp of memory. He seeks out the one friendly face in the wine world that he knows of, apprentice sommelier Miyabi Shinohara, to help him figure out what that wine is and why it affects him so strongly.

I’ll start off by saying that I rarely drink, even socially. I’ve drunk wine a grand total of maybe twice in my life, and both times I thought it tasted a lot like medicine. I went into The Drops of God knowing very little about wine, and it only took a few pages for me to realize that I knew even less about it than I thought.

Shizuku spent his childhood being given an intensive wine tasting education but never took the last step, actually tasting wine. That’s where Miyabi and her friendly and supportive mentor, Shiro Fujieda, came in. As Shizuku learned more about wine, readers got an education as well. This volume covered things like decanting and terroir as Shizuku attempted to identify the first wine in his father’s will, helped Miyabi find a similar tasting replacement for a bottle of major-league wine that she broke, and tried to get Taiyo Beer’s new wine division going.

I enjoyed the volume’s educational aspects, even though there was only so far I could go in my level of understanding without actually taking part in a wine tasting. Which, by the way, I’m not planning on doing. This manga has succeeded in convincing me that those two wines I drank might just have been terrible, or perhaps improperly served, but I’m not so convinced that I want to go out and see what I’ve been missing.

Overall, this reminded me a little (a very little) of Yakitate!! Japan (a bread baking manga), if that series hadn’t been so ridiculous. Both series made frequent use of over-the-top reaction shots, although in The Drops of God’s case they weren’t intended to be goofy - they were literal depictions of what characters were feeling, tasting, and smelling when they tasted wine. One wine, for example, reminded Issei of a particular painting (which he then spent several panels discussing), while another wine mentally transported Shizuku into a Queen concert.

Shizuku got past the chip on his shoulder regarding his father so quickly that I found myself thinking it was a shame the two men couldn’t have sat down at some point and talked things over. At any rate, I enjoyed seeing Shizuku and other characters try to understand the sensations and emotions various wines evoked in them. My favorite part of the volume was Shizuku and Miyabi’s quest to find a replacement for the broken bottle of major-league wine. The end result of that story was a reunion between Miyabi’s boss and a past acquaintance. It was surprisingly sweet and romantic, even though I, personally, thought it was stupid and risky as heck to make everything ride on one person interpreting a wine just so. Years wasted, because the characters couldn’t bring themselves to use words like normal people.

All in all, this volume interested me enough that I’ve already put in a request for the second one. The story and characters were a little thin, but I enjoyed seeing wine through the eyes of people who appreciated it more than I ever will. I also enjoyed the artwork. Although something about it struck me as just a tad boring (maybe because Okimoto tended to skip drawing backgrounds unless it was absolutely necessary?), it was precise and attractive.

I want to see if Shizuku can manage to identify all the wines in his father’s will and thereby come to a better understanding of his father and what I imagine was his father’s final message to him. With these people, wine is never just wine - it’s a given that there’s a larger message in the thirteen wines Yutaka chose to include in his will. I’m also interested to see whether there’s a message for Issei as well. There has to be more to the adoption than just setting Issei up to be Yutaka’s rival, right?

Unfortunately, I’m going to be doomed to disappointment. Only five volumes of The Drops of God were published in English. The last one was released several years ago, and it looks like the series might be out of print. If I assume that each volume is an omnibus containing two to three volumes (this first volume was originally published as two volumes in Japan), that’s at most 14 volumes and probably more like 10. Wikipedia tells me that the series ran for 44 volumes and then continued with the currently ongoing final arc. I can’t imagine how the author managed to get the identification of 13 wines to take that many volumes, but the end result is that I’m not going to get to see how everything turns out. Well, it won’t be the first time. I’ve requested the next volume anyway.

 

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

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