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review 2019-07-15 03:33
Defeating the Demon Lord's a Cinch (If You've Got a Ringer), Vol. 1 (book) by Tsukikage, illustrated by bob, translated by Alex Kerwin
Defeating the Demon Lord's a Cinch If You've Got a Ringer, Vol. 1 - Ken Tsukikage,Bob

Note: Don't read the character data section at the end of the book until you've finished the novel. There are at least a couple major spoilers.

Naotsugu Toudou is a hero summoned from another world (more than likely ours) to defeat the Demon Lord Kranos. Only the hero has the necessary divine protection required to defeat the Demon Lord, but others may accompany and aid him. All heroes start off at the lowest level and have to work their way up from there. Theoretically, the hero's party members should all be high level, but this party is...different.

Limis Al Friedia is a Level 10 elemental mage who can only use fire magic, even though all elemental mages are supposed to be able to use two different elements. Aria Rizas is a Level 20 swordmaster who recently switched to a completely different school of swordsmanship. Also, even though higher level techniques require at least a little magic, Aria has absolutely no magical ability. (It isn't until nearly the end of the book that readers are finally told that the maximum level for humans is probably 100. I don't consider this to be a spoiler, so I'm mentioning it here for context.)

Ares Crown, the priest assigned to be the group's healer, is the only one with any battle experience. In fact, his level is so high that he worries the rest of the group might use him as a crutch, so he lies and says his level is only 3, the last digit of his true level. He somehow has to get everyone in the party leveled up as soon as possible and keep Nao alive long enough to defeat the Demon Lord, no easy task considering that Nao soon becomes convinced that Ares' assistance is unnecessary.

In terms of flow and general readability this was one of the better light novels I've tried. I never got bored or bogged down by the writing. The battle scenes were relatively easy to follow, and I blew through the whole book much faster than I expected I would. I enjoyed Ares' crankiness, and his "keep moving forward and make the best of the crappy hand you've been dealt" attitude really worked for me.

That said, this book missed the mark in a lot of important ways. For starters, the cover art/title led me to believe that this was going to be a bit lighter and more ridiculous than it actually was. I figured that Ares would be the put-upon healer constantly saving his party members from certain death while the idiots kept obliviously charging forward. There was a little of that, but the brutality and bloodshed kept it from being the light read I expected.

At one point, Ares stumbled upon the aftermath of a fight in a tavern. An aggressive mercenary had freaked Nao out, and, as a result, Nao accidentally maimed nearly everyone in the building. Nao then ran off, basically leaving everyone to die, and only Limis knew that Ares then healed everyone and hushed the whole thing up. This incident was never mentioned again and seemed to make zero impact on Nao. In fact, a short while later, Nao came across a seriously injured monster (secretly injured by Ares, who was hoping Nao would kill it and thereby manage to level up a bit more) and, horrified, said that whoever had hurt it so badly and left it like that must be a monster. There were multiple times in the book where Ares wondered whether Nao was unstable, and I have to say that I wondered that myself. This particular volume provided no answers.

Ares was not a nice guy, and he definitely wasn't a devout priest, but he was absolutely a professional. He did his job, no matter how much the people around him pissed him off. The book included several brutal multi-page scenes in which he beat up and/or maimed monsters and demons, including a monster that looked like a little girl, in an effort to aid Nao or obtain more information (the violence is of the bone-crunching variety, but there is thankfully not much in the way of "gory squishy bits" descriptions). As ruthless as he was, I still preferred him to Nao. It really bothered me that Nao seemed unaffected by the fight at the tavern, and Ares' experience and practicality worked better for me than Nao's boneheadedness.

There were some POV issues. The bulk of the book was first person present tense POV from Ares' perspective, and the author was clearly most comfortable with this. Unfortunately, this resulted in a story that was mostly Ares running around and reacting to things. After a certain point, he was cut off from Nao's party and reduced to guessing where they might go next and what they might do. He was also in the dark as far as the Church went - Cardinal Creio kept saying that the Church had its reasons for assigning Ares to this job, and Ares just had to keep doing his best despite everything. His POV also put limitations on the things readers got to learn about the other characters. Ares wasn't the sort of person who made friends, and he really didn't care about anyone around him, beyond what their level of usefulness might be in battle. I had a better idea of most of the female characters' breast sizes than their personalities.

And speaking of breasts... I think the only female character whose breasts weren't described was maybe the one female mercenary. For a guy who seemed to care more about work than about romance or sex, Ares sure noticed breasts a lot. The breast thing irked me but was mostly ignorable, until the end, when it was revealed that leveling up could affect at least one character's breast size. Yes, the author wrote magically growing breasts into this world. ::sigh::

The overall world was painfully generic, the breast thing was annoying, and there was more bone-crunching violence than I expected. Still, there were some intriguing aspects that might prompt me to at least read the next volume. There are indications that Nao might morph into a more interesting and difficult-to-handle villain than the Demon Lord. There were brief mentions of Ares' workaholic tendencies being his biggest weakness - he isn't good at or used to delegating work, and he uses holy energy on himself to keep himself going past the normal limits of human endurance. This particular volume didn't really demonstrate the drawbacks of his way of operating, and I'm hoping that future volumes do a better job of digging into this some more. Volume 4's cover art features most of the female cast in bikinis, though, so that isn't very encouraging.

Extras:

  • Character data for most of the book's prominent characters. The only information not included that I would have liked to see was character ages. There was a bit on page 30 that seemed to indicate that Ares was only 18 years old, and that can't possibly be right.
  • An afterword written by the author.
  • Several black-and-white illustrations throughout. 
  • A couple color illustrations on a folded sheet at the beginning of the book. The illustrator seems to have forgotten that Amelia's hair is supposed to be blue.

 

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

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review 2017-01-22 14:40
Recent Non-Fiction Reads
Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany - Norman Ohler
Just Mercy - Bryan Stevenson
So You've Been Publicly Shamed - Jon Ronson

Blitzed:

A highly informative and gripping read about Nazi Germany and the significance of drugs during World War II. Drugs didn´t fit in the idealogy of the Nazis, but despite banning them, one substance with a highly addictive potential became the drug of the people: methamphetine. The sheer possibilities of a drug, which would keep the troops awake for days on end, were just to promising to pass up on and it didn´t stop with the troops: the methamphetin chocolate for the wifes at home really made me shook my head.

My favorite part of the book, though, is the chapter about Hitler and his personal physician Theo Morrell, who pumped the Führer full of various drugs. Everyone ,who ever wanted to know how much a human body can endure, should read this chapter, it´s unbelievable.

4,5 stars.

 

Just Mercy:

Bryan Stevenson is an inspiring personality. Being the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, an institution which provides helps for prisoners, who have been wrongly convicted of crimes or didn´t get a fair trail in the first place, he gives hope to the hopeless.

Stevenson tells of different people he has helped throughout his work with the initiative, the main narrative being about Walter McMillian, a black man who has been wrongly accused of murdering a white woman, eventhough it is clear from the beginning that Walter couldn´t have done it.

This book will make you feel angry and heartbroken. Angry because of the racial bias and the injustice that gets inflicted on these people. Heartbroken, because Stevenson describes his clients in a compassionate way so that you see them for what they are: Human beings with hopes, dreams, feelings and the ability to redeem themselves. A highly recommended read.

5 Stars 

 

So You´ve Been Publicly Shamed:

To be honest, I´m scared of social media. And this book didn´t help to overcome my anxieties. Jon Ronson takes a hard look at the phenomenon of public shaming. One false tweet on Twitter, a disrespectful post on facebook, making things up in a non-fiction book you are writing ... all these things could lead you to being publicly shamed.

Ronson has interviewed a variety of public shaming victims and some of these stories really made my stomach turn (I admit it, I cannot feel compassion for the dentist, who has butchered the lion). I missed, however, the perspective of a person, who participated in the actual public shaming of a person (for example Justine Sacco). Why does someone participate in an act of public shaming? Do they feel sorry for said person, when they are getting death threads? Do they feel responsible for destroying a life? Or are they perfectly okay with it because they feel safe behind the wall of anonymity in the internet? 

I sorely missed this perspective, but nonetheless I really enjoyed listening to this book (Ronson himself narrates it and he is excellent).

4 Stars

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review 2016-08-20 15:52
Since You've Been Gone Review
Since You've Been Gone - Morgan Matson

Wow. This book was so amazing! I fell in love with the characters as soon as I met them. The way Matson writes is INCREDIBLE, I was quickly hooked on the story and it kept getting better as the book progressed. The plot of this book was easy to understand and follow throughout the book. The words flowed so nicely and smoothly, it was an easy read. The only con I can think of about this book is that some of the chapters were really long, but that's a matter of preference. I also give an A+ to the character development. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good friendship/adventure story.

 

-SH

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text 2015-05-30 16:00
You've got Mail

Started rewatching "You've got Mail" with my mother yesterday and will continue in a moment (Just going to finish my book). Isn't that just one fabulous movie? Love and books with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It's just such a sweet thing.

 

Ps. had to add some pics to the post! ;)

 

 

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text 2015-05-23 17:32
Reading progress update: I've read 60%.
So You've Been Publicly Shamed - Jon Ronson

This book was excellent and really made me consider a lot of my own life that was often steeped in shame. Unfortunatey, though, it was making me think about my past a little too much, so while I'd highly recommend it, I've had to set it down for the time being, with a definite view to picking it up again when I'm in a better head-space.

 

Initially this book examines shamings that have been in the public domain recently, such as the journalist Jonah Lehrer who fabricated quotes from Bob Dylan and then proceeded to include them in his book called Imagine: How Creativity Works. In the case of Jonah Lehrer, Twitter played a large role in his downfall and was of prime focus.

 

The book then went on to look at a few other people who's misdemeanor have been made public and the subsequent reaction to them.

 

It was so funny when Jon Ronson, the author, went to a workshop where the goal was for none of the participants to feel shame. In order to achieve this they just said whatever they thought, to hell with the reaction. I tried this out with my partner, so for example, if he said something that pissed me off I told him so, unlike my usual reaction of internalising what he'd said. It was really fun, but not something that's practical most of the time.

 

The book really made me think about how people's lives are affected by the often huge overreaction by the public to minor indiscretions. It's different if the said indiscretion actually harms anyone, but nine times out of ten it doesn't and it's simply a huge overreaction.

 

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