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review 2017-09-24 07:23
Ode to momentous summers
Dandelion Wine - Ray Bradbury

*pleased sigh* So gorgeous.

 

Dandelion Wine is a beautiful, whimsical love letter to those memories of summer that are so vivid, so powerful, we can feel the baking sun, the weight and smell of the air, the joy and lassitude when we recall them.

 

It goes from one episode to the next fluidly and with little warning, connecting and weaving them. Add in Bradbury's style and the result is a bit like dreams, a bit like memories, introspective, nostalgic and at points philosophical.

 

There were episodes to pull every shade of emotion, and I loved so many of them I'd have serious trouble picking a favorite. Grandma's cooking made me so hungry and also miss my grandfather very much. Colonel's Freeleigh's bits and John's departure made me tear a bit. I laughed out loud with the witch debacle. Lavinia's had me switch between cheering on and wanting to thump her, and scared me quite a bit. And the lime-vanilla ice-cream one! So many tangled feels!

 

It was an excellent read to savor, and one I'll revisit.

 

 

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text 2017-09-22 23:35
Reading progress update: I've read 122 out of 239 pages.
Dandelion Wine - Ray Bradbury

Since the Crucible, it seems like everything I read has some tangential mention of witches.

 

Just After Sunset's mention was raving mad and scary. THIS episode is hilarious. The odd part is that all the elements are the same as in the Crucible, but one: the community takes the sane path, and everything turns ridiculous.

 

 

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text 2017-09-21 23:00
Reading progress update: I've read 80 out of 239 pages.
Dandelion Wine - Ray Bradbury

Lovely nostalgia fuel so far.

 

I had this one docked for Chilling Children, but the is not much horror to speak of. More suited for Magical Realism I'd say. We'll see.

 

 

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review 2017-09-11 13:29
The Drops of God (manga, vol. 2) story by Tadashi Agi, art by Shu Okimoto, translation by Kate Robinson
The Drops of God 2 - Shu Okimoto,Tadashi Agi

Most of the volume is devoted to Shizuku selecting French wines for the “Italy vs. France” competition sponsored by his company’s new Wine Division, although it isn’t immediately apparent that the first part of the volume has anything at all to do with the competition.

In the first part of the volume, Shizuku helps a struggling French restaurant. Their business was nearly killed off by a bad review from Issei Tomine, and now he’s scheduled to come reevaluate the restaurant. The restaurant’s owner is confident about his food but has no idea what to do about the wine menu - his wife used to handle that, but she died some time ago. In order to figure out where the restaurant owner went wrong, Shizuku must discover how to properly pair wine and food.

Shizuku’s efforts help him select one of the wines for the “Italy vs. France” competition, but he still needs two others. He finds the second one after visiting a bizarre wine shop staffed by twin brothers with very different opinions about wine and the third one after being approached by Maki Saionji, a wine importer and Issei Tomine’s occasional lover. The volume wraps up with both the competition and Shizuku and Issei finally reading the first part of Shizuku’s father’s will, which gives them the clues necessary to find the first of Shizuku’s father’s “Twelve Apostles.”

Hm. Still an enjoyable series overall. The first part of the volume was nice, but a little too removed from the main storyline and a little too serious to be fun despite that. There were some good educational aspects, though - the volume touched on the difference between how Japanese people view drinking tea with a meal (for example, tea can be used to cancel out the flavor of heavy and rich food) and the way wines are traditionally paired with French cuisine (the wine and food should enhance each other rather than cancel each other out). I also liked the father-daughter relationship aspect. The daughter was more responsible and dedicated than she initially appeared to be.

The next part of the volume, the weird wine shop, brought the story back to the restrained wackiness I enjoyed in the first volume. The brothers were amusing, complete opposites. One preferred to focus on wines from wineries with good reputations and would consider nothing else - he didn’t even bother to try all his wines to figure out if they were good, he just assumed they were because of their reputations. The other brother focused entirely on cheap wines and refused to stock anything else. His part of the shop looked like a cheesy dollar store, or maybe a giant “going out of business” sale.

The one thing I absolutely didn’t like about that part of the volume was the brothers’ father. I think readers were supposed to view him as being at least as amusing as his sons, but I just thought he was a horrible human being. In order to get his sons to cooperate and improve the family business, he

lied to them and told them he had cancer.

(spoiler show)

I mean, what kind of person does that? Thankfully, there was no sign that Shizuku and Miyabi would be returning there anytime soon.

For me, the weakest part of the volume was the wine competition. It went very quickly, and I felt like I had a much better grasp on the appeals of the French wines than I did on the Italian ones, since so much of the volume had been devoted to those. The final verdict was interesting, though. I was left with the impression that, if you’re unfamiliar with wine and looking to select a decent cheap one, it’s probably best to go with an Italian wine, but if you’re a bit more experienced and looking for more variety, French might be the way to go.

One ongoing bit of mystery: the identity of the woman who declared the competition’s final verdict and who gave Shizuku advice that helped him with his wine selections. She looked like a random cranky old woman when she was first introduced, but it soon became clear that she was quite wealthy and had probably known Shizuku’s father very well.

This volume left me feeling a little less excited overall than the first one, but the educational aspects were still pretty good and I’m still looking forward to seeing what else the series has in store for readers. It looks like Shizuku will be spending at least part of the next volume working with an amnesiac artist in an effort to find out what she knows about the First Apostle.

A couple things that struck me: even with help from all of his wine-possessing friends, Shizuku is going to end up spending a small fortune trying to get up to speed on wines; and, if they weren’t rivals, Shizuku and Issei would probably make for decent wine-tasting friends since they keep selecting/appreciating the same things.

Additional Comments:

My feelings about the artwork are still largely the same: it’s lovely, although noticeably focused on characters over backgrounds. However, there were a couple parts in this volume where I felt Okimoto slipped up a bit: a three-page section showing Shizuku back at the Wine Division, helping the chief with a wine cellar and receiving a dessert wine from him, and a panel in which Sara cutely encouraged people to taste the “Italy vs. France” wines. The bit with the chief looked unfinished, as though some of the screentone had been forgotten, and some of the linework was unusually thick. The panel with Sara was mostly fine, but her lips were odd, like she’d only put makeup on the right half of them.

 

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

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review 2017-09-07 14:40
Highland Vixen - Mary Wine

Marcus had lined up his men and offered her as a bride to them. To settle Helen into life so Marcus said. Then Marcus’s men decided to fight over Helen. Then Helen dressed as Brenda’s serving lady left MacPherson Castle with Brenda. Marcus’s pride would prevent him from going after Helen but Brenda was the niece of the current laird of the Grants and a beauty besides. So Helen worried they would come for Brenda. Helen’s simple life had been shattered after she met Marcus. Marcus plucked helen from her home one year ago and she had been living in Castle MacPherson against her will and helen didn’t even  know why she had been taken.   But Helen was going to find a way to regain control of her fate. Brenda and Helen are going to court to seek shelter from Brenda’s kin. Marcus was smitten with Helen according to her brother even if Marcus didn’t declare himself. Then Marcus’s father said he was to go to court as the Earl of Morton requested his brother Bhaic at court but his brother’s wife was pregnant and frail and he didn’t want to leave his wife so it now fell to Marcus. Which Marcus was happy about as he knew that was where helen was. Marcus was the War Chief of Clan Macpherson , a position Marcus took knowing he had to be suspicious of else he would fail his clan. With a King on the throne who was only eight years old, it was best to look after his own kin because the very same king’s mother was intent on taking back the child and country she felt was hers. Earl of Morton- James- was regent for the young king. . Marcus is very attracted to helen and even though helen won’t admit it she is attracted to him and because Marcus  ran afoul of the Earl of Norton Marcus and Helen had wed and  must consummate the marriage or the Earl of Morton  would marry helen off to someone else.

This was kinda hard for me to rate as I did enjoy some things about this book but for the most part I didn’t really enjoy it. I did however enjoy the way the author portrayed the Highlands as I have actually been there. I also really liked Marcus and Helen together. However I don’t believe it should have been easy for Brenda and Helen to leave the castle. Also even though I liked Helen and Marcus together I just really didn’t connect with them. I also loved the loyalty Marcus felt for his clan and the closeness between him and  Bhaic. It was hard for me to understand the language in this book. A lot of the time I felt there was too much going on in this book. I also felt at other times it dragged there  didn’t seem to be a happy medium as far as i am concerned in this book.  Also there seemed to be a lot of jumping around between the characters.   So I really didn’t enjoy this book but I am sure there are others who will love it.  

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