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review 2017-10-29 21:23
Dark Wine at Midnight (Hill Vampire #1) by Jenna Barwin
Dark Wine at Midnight (A Hill Vampire No... Dark Wine at Midnight (A Hill Vampire Novel) (Volume 1) - Jenna Barwin
This book as some excellently original concept. Cerissa is our protagonist and member of a species which either angelic or alien or both - I think both - with arcane powers and technology tasked with investigating the vampires. With her own quest of wanting freedom - because her people are not allowed to live their own lives. It’s an interesting conflict and throws in her playing as a double or triple agent with all the conflicting emotions that come with that, especially as she goes more native

 

There’s vampire society which has other interesting elements - like a recent war that has heavily divided them, a possible resistance movement, a strict population control, blood rationing and other tension building within

 

Throw in some deaths and apparently someone attacking them and the ongoing difficulties and tensions caused by the very restrictive treaty after the last vampire war that sets strict limits on vampire behaviour.

 

So let’s use this to tell the story of… a hot guy disliking a hot woman (for not apparent reason but love stories need to begin with instadislike) but finding her surprisingly compelling and he just can’t resist her and within the space of like, what, two, three weeks he suddenly is deeply and eternally in love with her and she with him. Only he can’t because Tragic Past and he is Unsafe for her to be with. And now there are people trying to keep them apart for Reasons which don’t quite make sense but OBSTACLE is needed.

 

Oh and she may be an alien angel thing that may destroy all of them but he spends like 5 minutes questioning her motives before focusing more on this romance which is trying to hit bingo of shallow, rather pointless tropes. These tropes aren’t even especially well developed - Henry is sad and self-hating because of a past jealous rage which he just… gets over? I mean this has apparently shaped him and his behaviour for years.

 

But most glaring is just how quickly Henry mehs Cerissa’s shapeshifting alien/angel woo-wooness. Or how his business, the community, his friends all come to be so much less important to him compared to said shapeshifting alien/angel. Even when he becomes aware that, at least on some level, she has a mandate to investigate vampires (and, one would hope, realises that it’s a step from “investigating” to doing something once you have the results) he seems relatively indifferent. We opened with quite a lot of detail looking at wine since this is Henry’s business… and that just vanishes. We discuss Cerissa‘s plan to open a lab and why this is important to her and for her plans for vampires and her own freedom… or the very nature of the low blood supply the vampires are dealing with: and then we just lose all of it.



This is my overwhelming, all consuming issue with this book - it creates a really original concept, it creates a very original character. It introduces excellent additions like an actual business (a business! Yes, supernatural beings that don’t just have money appear from nowhere or aren’t private investigators!) science, ethics of cloning and a whole lot more of interesting unique elements. And then what does it do? Pretty much neglect all of these excellent elements and focus on a romance that is a collection of rather tiresome tropes, few of them really developed or actually gelling well with the characters or showing them in a great light.

 

We also have some good diversity with more interesting potential from there: including Cerissa being South Asian and having a very different viewpoint from the rest of her species because she has been so influenced by her human father (which is why I’m a little disappointed we didn’t look at more of how her culture influenced and shaped her). Tig, the chief of police is a Black woman whose human life as a Massai shaped her culture and attitudes (honestly, I’m not even remotely informed enough to comment here because I don’t know the culture. There is a sense that it shapes her considerably but equally there is a little sense of “noble savage” and exoticism as well). She also has a complex and interesting, meaningful relationship with her deputy, Jayden, a Black man. She plays an excellent role in investigating the attacks and oh how I wish the focus on this had been greater.

 

Henry is latino, Mexican who mentions his history during Conquistador Mexico as a man of mixed indigenous and Spanish ancestry which also affected his history and attitudes. There’s a lot of racial diversity here among several prominent characters.
 
 
 
 
 
Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/10/dark-wine-at-midnight-hill-vampire-1-by.html
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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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