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review 2020-02-03 02:30
FukuFuku: Kitten Tales (manga, vol. 1) by Konami Kanata, translated by Marlaina McElheny and Ed Chavez
FukuFuku: Kitten Tales (Chi's Sweet Home) - Kanata Konami

At the beginning of the volume, FukuFuku's owner (whose name is never mentioned) is sitting with her adult cat, FukuFuku, and looking through old pictures of FukuFuku as a kitten. After those first couple pages, the entire series basically becomes a flashback to FukuFuku's kitten days: adjusting to her new home, dealing with her first bath, napping with her owner, learning to use a scratching post, meeting other cats, etc.

I've read and adored Kanata's Chi's Sweet Home. FukuFuku: Kitten Tales was very similar in a lot of ways. The most noticeable differences: Chi's Sweet Home was in color while FukuFuku: Kitten Tales featured black and white artwork, and Chi's owners were a married couple and their young song while FukuFuku's owner was an older woman who lived alone. Also, Chi's thoughts and dialogue were translated for readers, whereas FukuFuku just meowed and purred. I don't think the two series crossover at all, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn I was wrong.

I don't have a lot to say about this volume that I haven't already said about Chi's Sweet Home. It was very warm, sweet, and comforting, and I particularly liked the chapters devoted to FukuFuku and her owner sleeping together. FukuFuku napping inside the jack-o'-lantern was nice too. The one part that was a bit off was FukuFuku's Alice in Wonderland-inspired dream.

I plan to read more of this, although it's not the instant favorite that Chi's Sweet Home was. While I liked that readers had to rely entirely on FukuFuku's facial expressions, body language, and situation to figure out what she was thinking and feeling, this series felt a little less lively and fun than Chi's Sweet Home. Maybe it was because this volume was almost entirely focused on FukuFuku and her owner? If her owner has any family or friends, we haven't seen them yet, and FukuFuku has only briefly met a few other animals - one black and white cat made a repeat appearance, but not enough of one to get a feel for its personality.

And speaking of personality, I'd say FukuFuku was possibly a little more standoffish than Chi (it took her a bit to learn to enjoy being petted, for example), but otherwise she came across as very similar to Chi. I hope the differences in her personality start to stand out more as the series progresses.

All in all, so far I prefer Chi's Sweet Home, but FukuFuku: Kitten Tales is very nice and hits a lot of the same "warm fuzzies" emotional notes. Looks like I have another cat manga to work my way through.

 

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

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review 2019-10-10 20:12
Black Cat Square
Old Cat and the Kitten - Mary E. Little

Look, if you have cats - in particular if you have black cats - skip this book.  Run screaming from it.  Hide from it.  It's one of those "something bad happens to animals so kids learn life lesson" crap books.  

 

The writing is good, but yeah, no.

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review 2019-07-19 21:08
Stone of Tears / Terry Goodkind
Stone of Tears - Terry Goodkind

In Wizard's First Rule, Richard Cypher's world was turned upside down. Once a simple woods guide, Richard was forced to become the Seeker of Truth, to save the world from the vile dominance of Darken Rahl, the most viciously savage and powerful wizard the world had ever seen. He was joined on this epic quest by his beloved Kahlan, the only survivor among the Confessors, who brought a powerful but benevolent justice to the land before Rahl's evil scourge. Aided by Zedd, the last of the wizards who opposed Rahl, they were able to cast him into the underworld, saving the world from the living hell of life under Rahl.

But the veil to the underworld has been torn, and Rahl, from beyond the veil, begins to summon a sinister power more dreadful than any he has wielded before. Horrifying creatures escape through the torn veil, wreaking havoc on the unsuspecting world above.

If Rahl isn't stopped, he will free the Keeper itself, an evil entity whose power is so vast and foul that once freed, it can never again be contained.

Richard and Kahlan must face Rahl and the Keeper's terrible minions. But first, Richard must endure the ministrations of the Sisters of the Light, or die from the pain of magic that is his birthright and his curse. While Richard undertakes the arduous journey to the forbidden city of the Sisters, Kahlan must embark upon a long and dangerous mission to Aydindril, citadel of the old wizards, where she hopes to find Zedd and the help only he can lend to their desperate cause.

War, suffering, torture, and deceit lie in their paths, and nothing will save them from a destiny of violent death, unless their courage and faith are joined with luck and they find the elusive...Stone of Tears.

 

Let’s call this 2.5 stars for my reading experience of this volume. I was quite shocked, as I had enjoyed the first book enough to give it 3.5 stars. But reading this one just wore me down. Just as the first volume dwelt lingeringly and lovingly on Denna’s torture of Richard, this volume seems to document the brutality and misogyny of the Imperial army in the same way. 

Finally, just over 80% of the way through, I reached a point where I just couldn’t take any more and resolved to set the book aside until I could face that level of hatred & violence again. Now, I get that Goodkind is setting the bad guys up as truly evil with these attitudes of theirs, but I am a woman and when I read all this violence and vitriol against women, it grinds me down. I hear enough of this shite in the news each day and reading it in this extreme form in literature too just feels like masochism. 

Last night, feeling buoyed up by my Sherlock Holmes summer project, I resolved to finish this book. I am pleased to report that the hiatus did the trick--I was able to finish the novel without noticeable distress. And now Richard and I have learned the Wizard’s Second Rule--you may do things with kindness as your intention, but these acts may lead to unexpected negative consequences. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

I have planned to read the third book in this series before the end of the year. I have to say that I’m kind of dreading it and that I am already planning to use my new strategy for reading it. The Blood of the Fold are another bunch of misogynist assholes, so I’m planning plenty of breaks while I read that sucker. I can’t guarantee that I will finish it, but I will give it an honest try.

Book number 324 of my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project. 

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review 2019-06-25 21:33
Lord of Chaos / Robert Jordan
Lord of Chaos - Robert Jordan

On the slopes of Shayol Ghul, the Myrddraal swords are forged, and the sky is not the sky of this world ...

In Salidar the White Tower in exile prepares an embassy to Caemlyn, where Rand Al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, holds the throne -- and where an unexpected visitor may change the world ...

In Emond's Field, Perrin Goldeneyes, Lord of the Two Rivers, feels the pull of ta'veren to ta'veren and prepares to march ...

Morgase of Caemlyn finds a most unexpected, and quite unwelcome, ally ...

And south lies Illian, where Sammael holds sway ...
 

 

This wasn’t a straight forward read for me--I lost focus somewhere around halfway through the novel and had to go do other things for a while. But having done that, I came back and found the second part of the book to be great. Perhaps it should have been two books, instead of this enormous kitten-squisher.

I continue to be amazed at how many characters Jordan juggles during this series and the level of detail that he goes into. It must have taken incredible patience to write and edit these enormous tomes and his publisher was brave to believe that this many books in a series was a good idea.

Perhaps the second half of the book was more engaging for me because it seemed to feature the female characters a bit more. Egwene is currently my favourite--trying to find her inner viking princess warrior and subdue the Aes Sedai, who actually think that they’re going to control her and her BFFs. Not gonna happen.

I think I’m the same as many folk who read this series in saying that I care about the story and where it’s going, but I’m being driven crazy by the way the characters deal with each other, particularly the male/female dynamic. Rand doesn’t seem quite bright enough to pull off the whole “save the world” thing and if Mat and Perrin are his greatest supports, he is in a bad way. He’d be better off hooking his wagon to that of Elayne, Nyenaeve, and Egwene. 

My plan is to read one more of these books before the end of the year, but it will have to wait awhile. I will need quite a bit of palate cleansing before I proceed on.

Book number 322 of my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project

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review 2019-03-24 20:53
The Fires of Heaven / Robert Jordan
The Fires of Heaven - Robert Jordan

In this sequel to the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Shadow Rising, Robert Jordan again plunges us into his extraordinarily rich, totally unforgettable world: . ... Into the forbidden city of Rhuidean, where Rand al'Thor, now the Dragon Reborn, must conceal his present endeavor from all about him, even Egwene and Moiraine. ... Into the Amyrlin's study in the White Tower, where the Amyrlin, Flaida do Avriny a'Roihan, is weaving new plans. ... Into Andor, where Siuan Sanche and her companions, including the false Dragon Logain, have been arrested for barn-burning. ... Into the luxurious hidden chamber where the Forsaken Rahvin is meeting with three of his fellows to ensure their ultimate victory over the Dragon. ... Into the Queen's court in Caemlyn, where Morgase is curiously in thrall to the handsome Lord Gaebril. For once the Dragon walks the land, the fires of heaven fall where they will, until all men's lives are ablaze. And in Shayol Ghul, the Dark One stirs....

 

I would certainly have to say that I find this series addicting. Once I begin one of these mammoth tomes, I feel the need to keep reading until the end. Despite the reservations that I may have about the characterization of both men and women. Because everyone in this series seems to be as stubborn as mules and to have nasty tempers. Part of me really wants to know what Mr. Jordan was like--tempermental and hard-headed perhaps? Pure speculation on my part, but what else am I to think?

Only five volumes in, and I’ve already read thousands of pages, still with 10 volumes in my future. It’s good that I’m engaged in the story despite everyone’s general grumpiness. It continues to amaze me that this much detail can be kept interesting for the reader. Most series are wrapped up in 5 volumes, but this one is just gaining steam.

I also appreciate that although this is a quest tale, Jordan has written something original--The Wheel of Time is so distinct from LOTR. Tolkien’s work may be the roots of this genre, but Jordan proves that he has made it his own. And he has taken Frank Herbert’s concept of the Bene Gesserit and made the Aes Sedai into a force to be reckoned with while still making them humanly attainable. I love the different colour groups with their associated behaviours and their bonds with their Warders. I do tire, however, of his constant struggle for control between men and women. Why can’t they acknowledge their mutual interdependence? It seems like the Aes Sedai and their Warders are the only mixed-gender teams that are working well together.

Nevertheless, I hope to read at least one more volume of WoT before this year is finished! 

Book 313 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project.

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