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review 2020-05-16 20:22
The Deck of Omens, Four Paths #2 by Christine Lynn Herman
The Deck of Omens - Christine Lynn Herman

'Deck of Omens' picks up right where 'Devouring Gray' left off, with the Hawthornes and all of Four Paths aghast at Harper's vengeance.


Even in the peculiar world of this town the law doesn't touch magical actions, but there is a definite shift in power even as a new threat rises up from the Gray. Corruption is taking the trees of the forest from the inside out and, after Violet and Isaac try to strike at the Beast, the infection crosses over to people.


Further complications occur when other members of the Founders families begin to return to town. There is more family drama, surprise identity reveals, and so many feelings. Parents and kids just don't understand each other or their feelings.


This book gets to the heart of every mystery raised, but left me still wanting more. This series could easily have been expanded beyond two books, but its nice to see the series wrapped up.

Four Paths


Previous: 'The Devouring Gray'

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text SPOILER ALERT! 2020-04-07 00:42
Notes on Adaptation: Caging Skies
Caging Skies - Christine Leunens

This is really the Tale of Two Tales, with the shadow of a third lingering behind. 


Christine Leunens' "Caging Skies" is the novel from which Taika Waititi adapted his screenplay for "JoJo Rabbit" . . . and, if someone didn't tell you that fact, you may never guess. Yes, a little Viennese boy named Johannes is a Hitler Youth true-believer. Yes, his mother is secretly working with underground dissidents. Yes, a friend of Johannes' deceased sister is hiding in the family's attic. 


But is this novel a comedy about a little boy whose imaginary friend is Adolph Hitler? Does it make you laugh at evil and cry for the naiveté of youth? Not even a little bit. This novel owes far more to Kafka's "Metamorphosis" than to Mel Brooks any day.


Although the first part of the novel IS about a boy who resembles Waititi's JoJo, most of it is not. After JoJo is wounded, he turns surly and loses all humor. The novel becomes the story of a teenage boy -- and then a 20-something young man -- who falls in love with the young woman hidden in his home. As he loses all of his family, he bonds with the woman and keeps her tied to him, a prisoner of dependency and lies, for the rest of the war and more than a few years after. 


Interestingly, though, one motif the novel and film share is that of dancing -- to eerie effect. Through the novel, you can also follow motifs and symbolism of snails, caged birds, decaying houses, and bedridden people. 


So there is Leunens' "Caging Skies." And there is Waititi's "JoJo Rabbit." But I think there is easily another story here to be told: Elsa's story from her own point-of-view. How did she survive, and how badly did her experience affect her mind? "Caging Skies" is entirely from Johannes' point-of-view, so the damage to Elsa is very hard to discern. But it is certainly there. And the potential is fascinating.


Read it. Consider it.



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review 2020-03-09 01:15
Dekoboko Sugar Days (manga) by Atsuko Yusen, translated by Christine Dashiell
Dekoboko Sugar Days - Atsuko Yusen

Rui is tall, energetic, sweet, and prone to fretting. Yuujirou is athletic, short, and has a complex about his height. The two high schoolers have been friends since they were children. Rui had fallen into a gutter and Yuujirou rescued him. At the time, Yuujirou thought Rui was a very cute girl...and fell instantly in love. Even after he found out that Rui was actually a boy, he couldn't shake his feelings, and it's getting harder and harder to hide them. What Yuujirou doesn't know is that Rui is starting to realize that his feelings of deep admiration for his friend might actually be love.

I hate myself a little for giving Tokyopop any of my money. I'm still bitter about the licenses they left in limbo and series that went unfinished after the company imploded. But this looked really cute, so I ignored my bitter feelings and bought it.

And it was cute, for the most part. The first half was devoted to Yuujirou and Rui's mutual pining. In the second half, they'd finally admitted how they felt about each other but were still feeling their way around being boyfriends in addition to childhood friends. And FYI, unlike a lot of one-shots, the entire volume is devoted to this one couple - no spinoff bonus stories at the end, and no unrelated older works by the same author. I appreciated that, although I wouldn't have said no to a bonus story devoted to Takenaka, the sad stud doomed to unrequited love.

My favorite part of the volume was the first half. I love mutual pining. I love the anticipation of the moment the characters finally realize that the person they love loves them back. This volume gave me a good deal of that, and it was fun.

Yuujirou's efforts to push Rui away were a little annoying, but understandable (poor Yuujirou and his embarrassing and inconvenient boners). I was more annoyed by the introduction of the freshman girl who had a crush on Yuujirou - Yuujirou didn't seem like the kind of guy who'd try out a relationship he wasn't into, even in an effort to hide his feelings for Rui, and it irked me that the girl didn't even get to have a name or a face (her eyes were always obscured by her hair).

Yuujirou was more aware of his feelings than Rui, so Rui's part of the story was more about him examining his admiration for Yuujirou and realizing what his friend meant to him. He was a complete sweetheart. Also, it was just a little thing, but I got a kick out of the visual gag involving his cat. Every time Rui was on his bed, fretting about Yuujirou, his cat came by to step on his face.

The second half of the volume was where dating and sex came in. The dating was fun - Yuujirou and Rui were two adorable dorks who were interested in sex but too used to going out as friends to know how to move things along. They eventually figured things out, though, and that's where my feelings about the story got a little iffier.

On the plus side, they were both 100% on board with sex - no rapey tinge, although there was one instance of accidental voyeurism (if there really are love hotel rooms like that, then eww). On the minus side, after a whole volume of adorable awkwardness on both their parts, Yuujirou suddenly became the sexy and perfect seme to Rui's blushing uke. Considering that their sex education seemed to be a bit shaky (it sure looked like the sex advice book Rui bought was intended for women, or possibly heterosexual couples) and that they were both high school students having sex for the first time ever, I'd have expected some awkwardness.

Now for the artwork. I mostly liked it. Characters' facial expressions were great, but it bugged me a little that Yuujirou and Rui's face shapes and body types were somewhat inconsistent. I occasionally mistook Takenaka for Yuujirou, and Rui had weird moments when he suddenly looked more buff. As far as the explicitness level goes, yes, there's on-page sex, but any potentially objectionable body parts were obscured. Fairly tame, despite the "Mature, Ages 18+" rating on the back. (Side note: manga ratings drive me nuts and aren't very helpful. I have one that's rated 16+ that's way more explicit than this.)

Anyway, despite my complaints I still enjoyed this overall and even reread the first three quarters or so a couple times. It's one of those rare one-shots that I think was exactly as long as it needed to be.


Two full-color illustrations (on matte paper rather than the usual glossy) and a brief afterword by the author, with a cute illustration of Yuujirou, Rui, and a cat.


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

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review 2020-02-26 18:35
It is what it is
Roman Mosaics in the J. Paul Getty Museum - Alexis Belis,Christine Kondoleon

It is a good guide, but there is not much depth.  


Still for free kindle, BTW

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review 2020-02-21 20:22
By Night, Vol. 3 by Sarah Stern and John Allison
By Night Vol. 3 - John Allison,Sarah Stern,Christine Larsen

Shucks. This was ultimately disappointing. It felt like a definitive ending, but it was a rushed ending with loose ends and unsatisfying conclusions to several character arcs. Not feeling saying anything else.


By Night


Previous: 'Vol. 2'

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