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review 2020-05-31 00:15
Nyankees (manga, vol. 1) by Atsushi Okada, translated by Caleb Cook
Nyankees, Vol. 1 - Atsushi Okada,Caleb D. Cook

This series stars a bunch of stray cats who are usually depicted as tough human thugs and gang members. Ryuusei is a newcomer in Nekonaki, the territory ruled by Taiga and his gang. He doesn't always think before getting into fights, but he's tough and has the scars to prove it. Taiga and the others think he might be looking to steal some territory, but in reality the only thing he's interested in is finding a mysterious calico tom with a scarred eye. There's a chance that the cat Ryuusei wants to find is the new leader of the Goblin Cat Tails, but in order to meet him he'll first have to fight his way through a bunch of cats trying to create a cat utopia.

The main reason I got this was because of the cats. And also, the "cats depicted as people" aspect reminded me a little of Hatoful Boyfriend (although I suppose that was "birds briefly depicted as people"). Based on what I've seen of the cat politics around my apartment building, depicting cats as thugs duking it out for pieces of territory seemed like something that would work well.

The art was decent: nice clean lines, cats that were usually drawn well (the legs were occasionally weird), and easy-to-follow action. I liked the way Okada worked aspects of each cats' fur pattern into their clothing design. For example, Taiga, an orange tabby, wore a jacket with tabby stripes on it. Design-wise, Madara was my favorite, both in his human and cat versions. As a cat, he was a tortoiseshell (which would probably be hell to draw consistently if Madara became a regular character). In his human form, his tortoiseshell pattern became a coat with a camo pattern.

The humor was so-so. A few crass moments, like when Ryuusei tried to hit on Mii, or when a panel focused on Ryuusei's jiggling feline balls (so many cat testicles in this). There was also the bit with Ryuusei and the box. Honestly, it's amazing he's survived this long.

The whole "cats depicted as people" thing seemed a little inconsistent. It wasn't quite that these were cats sometimes shown as people but still 100% cats - Okada occasionally drew them in poses that weren't natural for cats but were natural for their human depictions. But behavior-wise, they also weren't just cats with people's minds. It was a bit weird.

Unfortunately, the characters and story didn't capture my attention at all. The characters did a lot of shouting and posturing but didn't otherwise stand out much. The one moment Ryuusei really stood out, for example, was when he demonstrated a willingness to show his belly to humans in order to charm them into giving him food. Otherwise, though, he was mostly Main Tough Guy Who Shouts a Lot and Is Occasionally Silly. Taiga was Leader Tough Guy Who Shouts a Lot. Then there was Kinbi and Ginbi, aka Tough Villain Guys With Dreadlocks Who Shout a Lot. And Mii was The Girl. I assume this world has more than one female cat in it, but you wouldn't know it from what you saw in this volume. I liked that it was noted that the volume's male calico and tortoiseshell were both rare, but it would have been nice to see more female characters.

It was a little confusing, but it sounded like the male calico Ryuusei was looking for was maybe someone he looked up to at some point. Other than that, I have no idea why finding this particular cat was so important to him. I also don't know that I care enough to buy any more of this, although there's a possibility I might check out a library copy of the next volume one day.

Extras:

A page of translator's notes, which for some reason is included just before the final chapter in the volume, and a couple full-color illustrations.

A missed opportunity: the volume was peppered with cat-related terms that readers might not necessarily know, like clowder and molly, so a page devoted to those might have been a good idea.

 

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

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review 2020-05-28 04:04
Review: A Murder of Manatees
A Murder of Manatees - Larry Correia,Rymor Publishing Group;Jerald Tuck Jr;Don Bilger;Carl Roehrich;Kimberlee Bowen;Larry Milton;Cindy Baldwin;Jennifer Luxmoore;Stacie Turner;Jane Parillo;Jimmie Espo;Adam Flaherty;Paul Legault;Karen Hyde;Marietta Giorno;Courtney Wetzel;Stacy O'

This was a hoot. It was full of camp and ridiculousness and it was fun to listen to.  It's a stupid funny space multidimensional adventure, and I recommend.

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review 2020-05-24 22:01
The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs
The Face in the Frost - John Bellairs

'The Face in the Frost' is one of those books that, when finished, made me shrug, and think "Well, that happened." Except, this book refuses to go away. I finished it Friday night and scenes keep replaying in my head. I hadn't appreciated the book when I first read it in middle school - I wanted more of his juvenile mysteries, not a fantasy pastiche. Now, I know better. Bellairs had been inspired by 'The Lord of the Rings', but wanted more humanity in his characters, and less archetypes, and so created his Prospero (not that one) and Roger Bacon (maybe that one) to run around a version of late medieval England.

 

The plot is simple: Bacon comes to Prospero for help in locating a book. An evil wizard starts tracking their movements and the two realize there's evil afoot. The genuine horror elements clash with the light-hearted, anachronistic fantasy, which leaves a reader off guard. You don't know what to expect.

 

My opinion of this is improving the more I think about it, but for the most part this still reminds me of 'Three Hearts and Three Lions' and other early modern fantasies that almost captured something, but leaves most modern readers equally entertained and nonplussed.

 

Despite the critical success of this book, Bellairs turned away from fantasy to focus on his successful juvenile books. The book was included on the reading list in the back of one of the early 'Dungeons and Dragons' manuals, too, which is a fun future list for me to explore. There was an unfinished sequel posthumously published in the 'Magic Mirrors' anthology that I may have to track down now, and a prequel short story was finished, but is considered lost after the anthology it was submitted to was never published.

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review 2020-05-20 21:23
Review ~ Entertaining!
The Selection Shenanigans - Cate Lawley

Book source ~ Purchased

 

My favorite vegan vampire is at it again. She and Alex need to solve a security breach at HQ, but before they can do that, not just one murder happens, but two! This is a fairly quick funny read that is just what I needed during these stressful COVID-19 times. Mallory is as scatterbrained as usual and it’s always fun to try to figure out her thought process. Alex is yummy as always and it’s awesome to see everyone else, too. Boone especially gets some extra time in this story and I’m glad. Because who could ever hate such a special doggo? We get a new character in the form of Madeline. I like her. A lot. And I’m so glad I discovered she has a series of her own. Now I must read them! There is one character I’m concerned about at the end of this tale and it’s driving me a bit loony. I hope everything ends up ok and I look forward to Mallory’s next adventure.

Source: imavoraciousreader.blogspot.com/2020/05/the-selection-shenanigans.html
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review 2020-05-20 04:43
Conflicted
Red, White & Royal Blue - Casey McQuiston

I'm going to make this short.

 

Love:

Okay Alex and Henry are adorable and I totally love them. They go back and forth just like me and the hubs.

 

Hate:

The story just. Keeps. Going. Ffs it could have been wrapped up neatly well before it was. And the whole Richardson background story was way too cliche and easy to figure out. Because the book dragged on forever, I started to lose interest. 

 

So, a good book but a bit slow and dull.

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