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review 2017-05-18 08:33
Baccano!, Vol. 1: The Rolling Bootlegs (book) by Ryohgo Narita, illustrated by Katsumi Enami, translated by Taylor Engel
Baccano!, Vol. 1: The Rolling Bootlegs - Ryohgo Narita

In the year 2002, a Japanese man has won a trip to New York, and he’s having a terrible time. A bunch of teens mugged him and took his most prized possession, his camera. If he wants to get it back, he’ll have to talk to a member of the Camorra (an Italian crime syndicate). Luckily, the man he speaks to is in a good and talkative mood, and boy does he have a story to tell. It starts in 1711, when an alchemist and his comrades summoned a demon who gifted the alchemist with the knowledge of how to make the elixir of immortality, and continues to New York in 1930.

In 1930, a young man named Firo has just been promoted to executive in the Martillo Family, a Camorra group. At that very same time, two cheerful and energetic thieves named Isaac and Miria have just arrived in the city, determined to right their past wrongs by doing only good deeds. Of course, they have a rather odd notion of what constitutes a “good deed.” And at the same time as all of that, an immortal old man named Szilard is being driven to a meeting by Ennis, his artificially created human servant. Szilard has spent the centuries since he became immortal trying to determine the recipe for the elixir of immortality, and it looks like he might have finally achieved his goal. Unfortunately, a fire makes things more complicated, and the two surviving bottles of the perfected elixir go missing.

Ennis has to track the bottles down or risk getting killed by Szilard. Of course, they just happen to look like regular wine, it’s the Prohibition era, and there are two different Camorra groups, a couple idiot thieves, some thugs, and several FBI agents in the area, so her job isn’t going to be easy.


My first exposure to this series was via the anime, which was confusing, violent, high-energy, and lots of fun. One of the reasons it was so confusing was because it didn’t entirely follow a linear timeline. Viewers would be shown events from 1930, 1931, 1932, and 1711, all mixed together. I have since learned that this is because the anime adapted events from the first three novels. Although this first volume in the series jumped around between the various prominent characters and their storylines, it at least stayed rooted in 1930 (with a few brief glimpses of 2002 and 1711).

Although the more linear storytelling was nice, I’d still advise most English-language Baccano! newbies to start with the anime. The only reason I might tell someone to start with the books instead is if 1) they absolutely needed more linear storytelling and/or 2) they couldn’t stand Baccano’s on-screen gore and violence. While this novel was a lot of fun and contained several bits of information that fans of the anime will love, the writing/translation was...not very good.

The book was very heavy on dialogue, which was probably a good thing, since the issues with the writing/translation were most noticeable in the narrative parts. The phrasing often seemed stilted, and there were times when I wondered how accurate the translation was, because certain statements contradicted each other. For example:

“They couldn’t die from injuries or illness. As long as they didn’t age, they could rely on regenerating even if they fell into boiling lava.

However… The exception was that they could be killed with ease.” (50)

I think that this is referring to the way the immortals could “eat” each other - the only way an immortal (the true immortals, anyway) could die was by being absorbed by another immortal. However, the phrasing is strange. Another contradiction:

“Why? Why did this have to happen now? Why a conflagration now of all times?!

There was nothing here that was flammable!

The liquor… I must haul out the liquor…” (57)

Umm… Liquor is actually quite flammable. And then there was just plain awkward writing, like this:

“In the instant he stood, frozen, the muzzle of a gun appeared from behind the falling Seina’s.” (163)

Seina’s what? I’m pretty sure it’s referring to Seina’s falling body, but the sentence structure made it seem like it was referring to something like “the falling Seina’s gun.”

In addition to awkward writing, the book committed the crime of being a historical novel with, at best, vague and handwavy descriptions. One of the things I had been hoping the Baccano! novels would include was interesting period details. There were a few, here and there, but not nearly as many as I had expected. Instead, more of the focus was on the action and dialogue. On the plus side, that probably contributed to this being a very quick read.

As awkward as the writing/translation was, it somehow never leached the fun out of the overall story. I still enjoyed this combination of Prohibition era setting, goofballs and deadly criminals, and immortality-granting wine. I could remember the end result of the two missing bottles of wine, but I couldn’t remember how they got to where they needed to be, so it was fun trying to keep track of them. Also, it was surprisingly nice to see these characters again. I haven’t seen Baccano! in a few years, and this book made me think that a rewatch might be a good idea.

If I had to pick favorite characters from the anime, I’d probably go with Isaac, Miria, and Claire/Vino. I still found Isaac and Miria to be delightful in this book, but one thing that surprised me was how much I liked and felt sympathy for Ennis. I couldn’t recall her making much of an impression on me when I saw the anime. I think the book might have included details about her history that weren’t included in the anime, but it’s been so long I can’t be sure.

Eh, I should probably wrap this up. Overall, I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected I would, although I’d hesitate to recommend it to Baccano! newbies - try the anime first. If you’ve seen and enjoyed the anime, it’s definitely worth giving this book a shot, if only for the extra character information.

Extras:

There's a 3-page afterword written by the author. Also, these aren't exactly extras, but the book includes several black-and-white illustrations and 8 pages of color illustrations (or 6, depending on how you're counting). Unfortunately, the color illustrations have text on them that needs to be read, and it's a bit hard on the eyes.

The illustrations were nice enough - often a better way to get an idea of what a particular character was supposed to look like than any of the descriptions in the text, if there were any. However, I did note one possible historical inaccuracy. One of the illustrations showed a 1930 New York cop. I googled their uniforms, and I think Enami might have gone with a more modern uniform design than was appropriate.

 

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

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review 2016-12-12 22:52
The Best of Two Worlds | Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova
The Alchemists of Loom - Elise Kova

 

I am very happy to present my stop on the Alchemists of Loom blog tour run by Xpresso Book Tours. I have been a fan of Elise Kova and her other series, Air Awakens, for a while now. So, I jumped on the chance to read this book, as you definitely should too. If you are a fan of fantasy, dragons, and dynamic heroes looking for revenge, then this is the perfect book for you.

 

Click the link to see my review and enter the giveaway!

Source: 4evercrazyforya.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-best-of-two-worlds-alchemists-of.html
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text 2016-12-12 08:13
BLOG TOUR & #GIVEAWAY - The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga #1) by Elise Kova
The Alchemists of Loom - Elise Kova
Her vengeance. His vision.
 
Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.
 
Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.
 
When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.
 
He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.

 

Source: archaeolibrarianologist.blogspot.de/2016/12/blog-tour-giveaway-alchemists-of-loom.html
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review 2016-10-31 16:43
Adventures in Audio
Phoenix Rising - Philippa Ballantine,Tee Morris
A Conspiracy of Alchemists - Liesel Schwarz
The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter: The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, Book 1 - Rod Duncan

Mr Ceridwen and I have been listening to audiobooks on our (somewhat long) drive up to the cabin, which has been generally enjoyable. We got through the entire "Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire" series, which was absolutely a great time. Good narrators, very interesting alt-history, a semi-twist ending I didn't see coming, very astute observations about gender, and on. Well recommended all around. So then we cased around for the next steampunkery to fill the hours. 

 

I downloaded A Conspiracy of Alchemists first, but holy God was the narrator bad. We just couldn't stop laughing at her hiccoughing reading style. Then we moved on to Phoenix Rising, which opens with a relatively fun rescue sequence, and then settles into ... a whole lot of not so very clever bickering. The main characters, named Books & Braun (gag), are a fussy librarian and a stabby brute, but, get this, the DUDE is the fussy pepperpot and the LADY loves explosives. Oh ho, I bet you thought the lady was the librarian, but you would be wrong! See our fascinating gender reversal! 

 

I actually fell asleep while listening. 

 

Which, look, I generally think whether I like this sort of pulp mid-list disposable reading is more dependent on the angle of the sun or the barometric pressure than, say, actual merit. Because this stuff is all more or less the same -- somewhat formulaic, dependent on action, sometimes quippy, little bit of romance for the ladies, etc -- so I wonder sometimes why I bother reading (or writing) reviews. Something called Conspiracy of Alchemists is going to be a three-star outing, shitty narrators notwithstanding, and that I thought Phoenix Rising boring and trite might because I ate something like all the doughnuts when I stopped in Hinckley and hit Toby's bakery. Noms. 

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review 2016-09-23 19:04
Review: A Conspiracy of Alchemists
A Conspiracy of Alchemists - Liesel Schwarz

Howdy Peeps (nod to a friend) and how are you all today? Hopefully, you all are doing excellent! I am doing pretty awesome myself! I have been keeping busy with something fun and exciting. That I can't wait to share with you all , but not just yet (I know "why tease us!") I have a lot to do before I can share so as soon as I get answers I will share with you all! It's nothing major like a book deal or anything, but this is a huge deal for me. And, it took me awhile to finally know what I should be doing! Anywhozzles, I think that's it for now! Now, onto something pressing. That is a book review HAZA! I am excited to be reviewing my very first steampunk novel! YAS! The name of this book is called "A Conspiracy of Alchemists" and it is written my Liesel Schwarz. I am excited to start so let's get cooking!

 

So, this story is about an airship pilot name Elle Chance. Who is dragged into a job to help out a mysterious man name Mr. Marsh. Along the way Elle discovers a destiny that she is not ready for. Also, she and Marsh need to stop a band of evil Alchemists from basically destroying the world! (How Exciting!!!)

 

This book drew me in right away and I loved using my imagination to creating this steampunk world. I grew to really like Marsh (real name Hugh) and his charming ways. Elle, even tough I understood the situation and I would most likely react the same way! Well, she was annoying as hell ( forgive me) in the beginning. She complained about everything it seemed. I really wanted to punch her. She is stubborn and true to her words. Marsh like I've mentioned is charming, sweet, and also funny. He knew the right words to say and things to do to set Elle off! he can be a bit to himself, for which I understood why Elle was hesitant about certain situations. Elle isn't so bad, she stood up for what she wanted to do and she went for it and that was to be an airship pilot. Which she's awesome at and she didn't give up on a fight!

 

This story was excellently written. The details of Elle's world was amazing and impressive. Liesel did an amazing job in researching. And, now I must find more of her books!

 

Phew! That's it from this awesome reader. I hope you all have enjoyed this post. I highly recommend this for anyone into steampunk or wanting to start (like me!) I will be back on Monday with a new post. And, I hope you all have a great and wonderful day/night where ever you are.

 

&

 

SHIMMY SHIMMY!

 

 

tried finding the gif for the part of Princess Diaries 2 where she is dancing with prince who was like shimmy shimmy. No luck :( sad face

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