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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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text 2017-04-01 16:17
Final Target (Dublin Mafia: Triskelion Team, Book 1) Zara Keane Free!
Final Target (Dublin Mafia: Triskelion Team, Book 1) - Zara Keane

Semi-reformed gangster, Lar Delaney, joins forces with his brothers and cousins to form a private company of mercenaries.They’ll sell their services to everyone from government agencies needing off-the-books jobs to criminal organizations.

His last hit turns out to be his first love…
As a final job for his mob boss uncle, Lar Delaney agrees to eliminate one last target. Through the crosshairs of his sniper rifle, he realizes that his target is a former girlfriend—a woman who supposedly died five years previously.

Moira Collins is an intelligence agent whose cover has been shot to smithereens. When she finds herself on the wrong side of an assassin’s rifle, she’s appalled to recognize the only mark she ever let herself fall in love with.
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text 2017-03-30 07:45
Release Blitz Black Hat Hacker by Soraya Naomi
 
 
 
Title: Black Hat Hacker
Series: Chicago Syndicate #6
Author: Soraya Naomi
Genre: NA Mafia Romance
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Kindle Unlimited

 
 
 
“I absolutely adored this story and can't wait for more from this author!” - Bookgasms Book Blog “From page one, sparks fly, the plot thickens fast, and the sex scenes are amazingly well-written - so are the emotional scenes, and a few are heartbreakingly beautiful.” - Reader Review “Absolutely loved Black Hat Hacker! From the title all the way through till the very end!” - Reader Review
 
 
 
 
You don’t know me.
 
But that’s only because I don’t want you to.
 
I have the most lucrative job in the country as a hacker in the notorious underworld. I’ve built entire systems and destroyed evidence for career advancement while stealing and exploiting data for personal gain. 
 
I’m the black hat hacker for the Chicago Syndicate and hold all the dirty secrets of the most powerful men in the U.S. in the palm of my hands, just a keystroke away from mass ruination.
 
However, no one knows my dirty secret, a decision from my past that’s just aching to blow up in my face and shatter my future. Especially when a certain wavy haired brunette begins to demand my attention with her odd ways and her carefree attitude.
 
She’s a woman who makes me go against everything I’ve ever believed.
 
A woman whom I’m forbidden from having my usual one-night stand with, even if she was available.
 
A woman whom I have to keep from getting herself killed, whether she likes it or not.
 
 
 

You don’t know me, but neither does she…yet. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I read many genres but favor intense, seductive, and provocative novels where the male character loves fiercely, without remorse or boundaries. I also adore forbidden love tales and have an odd fascination with kidnapping romances. No, I don't secretly want to be kidnapped, though!

I have a passionate obsession with the written word and indulge in chocolate pastries much too often. My debut novel For Fallon (Chicago Syndicate, #1) was released on July 26, 2014. I’m honored that For Fallon won “Best Breakout Novel 2014” in the Novel Grounds Semi Annual Literary Awards.
Sign up to Soraya’s newsletter to keep up to date with release dates: http://eepurl.com/b0MS85

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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review 2017-03-28 06:50
Gdy zacierają się granice między dobrem i złem - "Między prawami. Polowanie na Wilka" Very Eikon
Autor: Vera Eikon
Tytuł: Między prawami. Polowanie na Wilka
Seria: Między prawami, część 1
Liczba stron: 227 (ebook)
Wydawnictwo: Katarzyna Woźniak
 
Jakiś czas temu w odmętach Internetu natknęłam się na darmowego ebooka - polski kryminał Very Eikon. Opis fabuły mnie zaintrygował i tak oto "Między prawami" trafiło na mój czytnik. Jako że w tym miesiącu idealnie podpasowało mi do wyzwania "Czytam, bo polskie", postanowiłam wreszcie sięgnąć po tę pozycję. Jak przebiegło moje pierwsze spotkanie z twórczością Very? Zapraszam na recenzję...
Głównym bohaterem powieści jest komisarz Alan Berg z Centralnego Biura Śledczego Policji. Bez reszty skupiony na swojej pracy, od dawna próbuje dopaść narkotykowego bossa - tytułowego Wilka. Choć nikt nie wie nawet, jak gangster wygląda, grupa operacyjna komisarza depcze mu po piętach, a lada moment ma zyskać niepowtarzalną okazję schwytania przestępcy. Dla Berga to także szansa na osobistą zemstę, ale skrzętnie ukrywa swoje motywy przed przełożonymi i współpracownikami. Całkowicie pochłonięty prowadzoną sprawą, izoluje się od otoczenia i coraz bardziej zaniedbuje rozczarowaną jego zachowaniem żonę. Tymczasem szef przydziela mu nowego partnera, podkomisarza Juliana Sikorskiego. Berg jest wściekły, zdecydowanie woli działać w pojedynkę. Nie ma jednak wyjścia, musi wprowadzić Młodego w sprawę. Wkrótce sytuacja poważnie się komplikuje, w dodatku nie każdy jest tym, za kogo się podaje.
Pierwszą część "Między prawami" przeczytałam z dużym zainteresowaniem. Ciekawa fabuła, strzelaniny, pościg, porwanie, mafijne porachunki - na brak akcji nie można narzekać. Trup ściele się gęsto, a komisarzowi Bergowi co rusz coś staje na drodze, utrudniając złapanie bandyty. Chociaż korekta tekstu pozostawia wiele do życzenia (raziły mnie zwłaszcza liczne błędy interpunkcyjne), opisywana historia wciągnęła mnie tak, że postanowiłam przymknąć na to oko i dotrwać do końca. Nagrodą była dobra, trzymająca w napięciu powieść sensacyjna (bo kryminałem jednak bym jej nie nazwała), którą wielbicielom gatunku serdecznie polecam. Druga część - "Przedpiekle" - już w lipcu :)

 

Source: ogrodksiazek.blogspot.com/2017/03/gdy-zacieraja-sie-granice-miedzy-dobrem.html
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review 2017-03-11 06:12
Dark Protector ~ Celia Aaron
Dark Protector - Celia Aaron

My flower's thorns were already dripping with the blood of her enemies.



Conrad Mercer watches the pretty little florist from a distance-a safe distance- or so he believes. When his florist, Charlie, is stolen by men out to get him Conrad surges forward to rescue the damsel he admires. Charlie knows there’s a man in a black Audi watching her but for some reason, she feels safer with him out there. When she ends up in a dingy basement with bad men she is thrust into the life of the mysterious man.

He was a battlefield, his story told with blood and scar tissue.



Once the door is opened it can’t be closed. Conrad may have found the missing piece he was always looking for but Charlie has dark secrets of her own.

Celia Aaron is definitely becoming a comfort read for me- her characters are flawed yet lovable and she totally nails the classic dynamic in dark romance. I absolutely love the fierce yet vulnerable heroine- she’s soft yet guarded and the perfect match for her total Alpha male who’s a bad boy with redeeming qualities. *drool*

Her soft breaths created a soundtrack that could soothe even the most vicious beast, myself included.



What put this as a 4.5 versus a 5-star rating depended on the fact that were soooo many opportunities to really gut the reader. Multiple times I felt at the brink for the action to get really DARK- which the dark and sadistic reader in me wanted. I totally understand this isn’t the writer’s style but I did find it a little unbelievable the heroine would be in the jaws of danger and narrowly escape unscathed each time.

Also, wow. There were some incredible back stories in this book! Completely unique and new- I want Charlie’s story BEFORE Conrad- now that’s a plot line I’m talking about it! Sorry can’t say it’s spoiler-y…

Also I would love to read Nate’s story going forward. Please pretty please!!

Overall, LOVED loved it- grab your glass of Chardonnay and curl up with a fur baby this is one that’ll make your heart sing ♥.

*Arc received in exchange for an honest review*

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