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review 2019-06-23 22:21
Baccano!, Vol. 2: 1931 The Grand Punk Railroad: Local (book) by Ryohgo Narita, illustration by Katsumi Enami, translated by Taylor Engel
Baccano!, Vol. 2: 1931 The Grand Punk Railroad: Local - Ryohgo Narita,Katsumi Enami

The year is 1931, and the Flying Pussyfoot, a limited express train bound for New York, has just acquired several groups worth of dangerous passengers, nearly all of whom think they'll easily be able to take over the train for their own ends. There's crybaby bootlegger boss Jacuzzi Splot (best name ever) and his misfit band of delinquents, who plan to steal some secret cargo. There's the Lemures group, a bunch of terrorists determined to take some hostages in order to free their leader, the immortal Huey Laforet. There's murder-loving Ladd Russo, the nephew of the head of the Russo mafia family, his bride-to-be Lua, and his group of fellow killers. There's the mysterious monster known as the Rail Tracer. And then there are a few less dangerous passengers, like the thieves Isaac and Miria.

All of these passengers have their own goals and motivations. Only some of them will make it to New York alive.

First, a disclaimer: I have seen (and enjoyed) the anime, which adapted several books in this series, including this one. I suspect it helped my ability to follow along with the characters and story. Normally, I'd suggest watching the anime prior to attempting these light novels, but the anime has gone out of print and, as far as I know, isn't legally streaming anywhere (to anyone who wonders why I still buy so much anime when streaming is an option, this is why).

As far as reading order goes: Although Narita wrote in his afterword that he planned to keep each volume as self-contained as possible, that doesn't mean the books can be read in any order - definitely read Volume 1 before starting this one, even though only a few characters from the first book make appearances in this one. Also, if you make it past Volume 1 and plan on reading Volume 2, you might as well buy Volume 3 as well, because Volume 2 isn't self-contained. It doesn't end in what I'd call a cliffhanger, but it does leave a good chunk of the story untold. Multiple characters show up, only to disappear again, the details of their fates saved for Volume 3.

In my review of the first volume of this series, I wrote that the writing/translation was bad but that this somehow didn't interfere with my enjoyment. That was sadly not the case with Volume 2. I don't know whether it was actually worse than Volume 1 or whether I was just less in the mood, but there were times when the writing literally ground my reading experience to a halt as I tried to figure out what Narita meant. One example:

"Nice objected to that idea. Since she was talking to Nick, even under the circumstances, she meticulously parsed out casual speech and polite speech to the appropriate listener; Nick received the latter." (147)

It would have been simpler to say that, even though she objected to Nick's idea, she still did so politely. Not only is the phrasing incredibly awkward, I'm not sure that "parsed" is the right word here. "Parceled out" might have been more appropriate.

Here's an example that just made me shake my head:

"Without giving an audible answer to that question, Lua nodded silently." (48)

Can we say "redundant"?

As in Volume 1, the writing was almost completely devoid of descriptions. Nearly all of the book's historical and setting details were limited to pages 61 to 62 - otherwise, it was all character introductions, dialogue, and action, pretty much in that order.

It's a sign of how excellent Ladd Russo's English-language voice actor was that I kept hearing him every time I read Ladd's dialogue. Of all of this book's many characters, Ladd and Jacuzzi probably stood out the most. Jacuzzi was a relatively fun and interesting character, a young man who tended to cry and panic about everything but who nonetheless inspired intense loyalty within his group. Ladd, unfortunately, just came across as an excuse for occasional mindless bone-crunching violence.

Isaac and Miria were a disappointment this time around. They continued their role as the series' comic relief, but instead of being oblivious to the violence around them, they were presented as being well aware of what was going on, but so used to it that they were unfazed. Honestly, it made them seem more creepy and disturbing than, say, a more in-your-face monster like Ladd.

I don't expect the series' writing to improve, but I'm hopeful that I'll like Volume 3 more than this one, because all of the fantasy elements that Narita only hinted at in this volume will actually be on-page in that volume. Also, my favorite character from the anime, Claire, will finally get more than just a few vague mentions.

I'll wrap this up with a couple things that made me go WTF. Was the fingernail thing in the anime? I can't remember, but in the book it made me wince. Fingernails don't work like that - I don't care how you shape or cut them, you're not going to be able to saw through multiple ropes with them, and certainly not quickly enough to do any good. Also, if you did arrange to have one of your nails shaped like a tiny saw, you would constantly regret it as you accidentally cut yourself or other people or even just got the nail caught on cloth or whatever. And then there was the thing under Nice's eye patch, which I know was definitely in the anime, although I'd completely forgotten about it. So much wincing. Just a bad, bad idea.

Extras:

Several color illustrations at the front of the book (with text that will likely only confuse readers who haven't yet read the volume and haven't seen the anime), several black-and-white illustrations throughout, and an afterword by the author.

 

(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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review 2019-06-18 00:58
Dark Light - Chris Stoneheart

 

With complications arising in her relationship with Nathan, guarding gazelles in Africa with Ryan, Strigorii vampires who have her in their sights, and a few battles with her old enemy, Aquilla and Kaitlin doesn’t know whether she’s coming or going. She feels like she’s become a game piece in a sadistic chess tournament and all she wants is off the board to live in peace and quiet with her daughter.

 

Kaitlin is back in this explosive and energetic continuation of the ‘Chronicles of Light’ series. This time the story has our feisty heroine negotiating with the Lord of Lust, traveling to Africa, guarding gazelles and discovering that there is other supernatural groups that want a piece of her. This fast paced, non-stop action story is full of captivating emotional angst, thrilling, hold your breath suspense and stunning battles that rocks readers’ worlds while keeping them completely absorbed until the very last page.

 

The romance part of this story has a hit a few snags as her relationship with Nathan explodes into an ‘OMG what have I done now’ moment. And honestly this whole story explodes into sharp edged pieces as friends, lovers, allies and even enemies are torn apart and readers don’t want to miss one second of the world rockin’ excitement as Kaitlin tries to keep all the allies in Chattanooga from disintegrating into an unfixable mess.

 

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text 2019-06-15 12:01
Why LED Lighting for New Commercial Properties (and Lighting Upgrades) Makes Sense

A contractor sharing a clear, focused, responsible, forward-thinking working philosophy and vision can (and always should) trump a lower bid. Adding dynamic elements to your pitch or your business’s value statement should certainly include details like using LED lights rather than the less efficient options such as incandescents or fluorescents inside, and sodium-vapor arc lighting outside. Since LED lighting is considerably more energy-efficient than many of the traditional lighting technologies, choosing LED products is both greener and will save the client money on power bills.

Longer Lasting, Less Labor

In addition to the practical savings offered by LED lighting’s superior efficiency, there are other useful benefits. For one, LED lights last far longer than the earlier lighting technologies. When every LED light, from flood light bulbs to T5 or T8 LED tubes, lasts exponentially longer than the alternatives, the client is saving money on every bulb or tube that doesn’t have to be replaced. Longer-lasting bulbs also mean lower labor costs, or less time the client has to dedicate to changing them.

A Better Quality of Light

LED illumination also distinguishes itself with the quality of light it produces. Indoors, fluorescent tubes have never been particularly popular for the sort of light they produce. Fluorescent light is generally regarded as “colder” and some say that it interferes with their sleep cycles. Fluorescents can also buzz and flicker in a distracting way that for some can cause headaches. Outside, arc lighting—sodium-vapor lamps being the most common—are likewise infamous for producing “cold” monochromatic light that tends to wash everything out to black and white.

LED lighting, on the other hand, emits light on a narrow range of wavelengths, which along with reducing energy waste (by reducing non-visible emissions), gives them exceptional color control. This means that individual LEDs can be combined to produce cleaner, white light across a fuller, more natural feeling spectrum than other lights. This control over wavelengths means that LEDs can be customized to produce a specific color, or broad-spectrum white light that imitates daylight.

Hardier Outdoor Lighting

A customizable spectrum of light makes LED lighting preferable as an outdoor light source for more than its warmth. For instance, the fuller white light spectrum of an LED motion sensor light bulb means that anything illuminated by it can be better seen and recognized. That contributes to its effectiveness as a security measure.

LED technology, on top of its other benefits, is incredibly resistant to natural temperature extremes. Its resistance to heat and cold is why LED lighting is so popular for illuminating electronic devices that can generate a good deal of heat as well as cold such as freezers and refrigerators. It also ensures that an outdoor LED light can handle whatever summer or winter throws at it.

About Hyperikon

Since their founding in 2010, Hyperikon has established their place in the industry as a premier LED lighting provider. For both commercial and residential lighting, Hyperikon focuses on innovation, sustainability, and ease of use to ensure the best customer experience possible. Since the beginning, Hyperikon has placed a premium on helping every business and customer improve their power efficiency, contributing to greener world and a lower power bill. Check their website for offers on LED bulbs, including an LED bulb for floodlight illumination, LED tubes, LED recessed lighting, LED street lights, and LED lighting solutions for every home and business’s needs. Hyperikon proudly holds a great number of U.S. patents and their products feature more than 700 certifications and qualifications.

Find out exactly how bright, warm, efficient, and long-lasting LED lighting is with Hyperikon, at Hyperikon.com

 

Original Source: http://bit.ly/2XLaAgR

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review 2019-06-15 00:22
The Light by Lars Hedbor
The Light: Tales from a Revolution - New Jersey - Lars D. H. Hedbor

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it works perfectly as a stand alone.

The American Revolution was always such a boring topic in high school. Taught by dates and numbers and famous documents, it was a very dry subject. No more! Hedbor is bringing this bit of history to life. I quite enjoyed The Light, and that was unexpected. I did worry that this story might be a little preachy since the main character, Robert, is a devoted Quaker. Yet Hedbor did a really great job of getting Robert’s inner feelings and motivations across without ramming Robert’s personal beliefs down the reader’s throat.

The tale covers a lot of ground without feeling rushed. Robert has a serious falling out with his father, Peter, over their shared faith. Indeed, Robert goes on to become one of the New Quakers. Religion was an important facet to the lives of many people and for some the right to worship as they wish became their core belief.

Then we see Robert’s professional life. He’s a blacksmith and he has dealings with some Irish brothers (Angus and Rufus). He also has to make some hard choices about supplying the local English soldiers, or not. Or rather, will he supply only non-weapons, or will he make canon balls and the like? Robert’s firm belief in non-violence is his guiding principle, yet he has his wife and daughter to think of too. It’s a great conundrum to place our main character in.

The one weakness to this story is that the ladies are few and far between. They are only the home makers and comforters. In short, they don’t affect the plot. The author could have left them out and the story wouldn’t be different. So, sigh…. We all know women did more than clean, cook, and bear children during the American Revolution. Rebecca is Robert’s daughter. Then there’s Mary and Margaret. One is Robert’s wife and the other is his mom and I can’t recall who is who.

OK, back to the good stuff. There’s more drama as the first volleys of the American Revolution occur. I liked that we got to see them or hear about them from the characters, since they weren’t directly involved in the fighting. Yet they are definitely affected by all of it – the politics, the fighting, the change in commerce, etc.

I also like that the author held to some language norms of the time, using thee and thy and thou as appropriate. His little note on language and more at the end was great too. I always appreciate hearing why a historian chose this or that for a good story. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Shamaan Casey certainly has an engaging voice. His deep voice reminds me strongly of Stefan Rudnicki, a favorite narrator of mine. He was great with the characters’ voices, keeping everyone distinct and imbuing them with emotion. I liked his regional accents. His female character voices were also feminine. The one weakness is in the technical recording. The volume does change here and there, and a few spots sound just a little like they were recorded in a cavern. So the technical side could use a little polishing. 4/5 stars.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are truly my own.

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