Kristi J. (midwinter) - Reviews

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Ai Yori Aoshi, Vol 1
Ai Yori Aoshi, Vol 1
Author: Kou Fumizuki
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 27
Review Date: 8/16/2005
Helpful Score: 1


From Publishers Weekly
Kaoru Hanabishi is a good-hearted college student who has severed ties to his super-rich family. One day on the subway, he runs into a gorgeous, easily confused young woman in traditional kimono and sandals. She turns out to be his childhood friend Aoi Sakuraba, who has been madly in love with him for her entire life and wants nothing but to marry him, worship at his feet, cook all his favorite foods, scrub his back, warm him with her naked body when he's cold, address him as formally as possible and so on. If Fumizuki's long-running manga romance (the title translates roughly as "True Blue Love") sounds a little bit like a Stepford Wives fantasy, well, it sometimes is. But there's a catch: Aoi is from a power family, too, and they strongly disapprove of her relationship with black-sheep Kaoru. This work is in danger of being a ridiculous sex farce, and Fumizuki plays Aoi's wide-eyed passion and Kaoru's guarded affection for all the comedy it's worth. But it's actually more a comedy of manners: the formality of old-money Japan contrasted with the informality of its modern culture. And Fumizuki has a real fondness for the whole cast-if the artwork is a little on the generic-manga side, the depth of characterization fleshes out Kaoru and Aoi considerably. Be forewarned: as in the immensely popular Love, Hina, there is a lot of overly-coy nudity, and most of the jokes revolve around Aoi's generous bosom.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Ai Yori Aoshi, Vol 2
Ai Yori Aoshi, Vol 2
Author: Kou Fumizuki
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 13
Review Date: 8/24/2005


When the beautiful Aoi stepped into Kaoru's life, he got all of the difficulties of cohabitation with none of the fulfillment. In order to renew their arranged engagement, Kaoru must return to the family he ran away from, and he's not prepared to do that. As if things weren't stressful enough, the new tenant in his building, the Japanese-raised American Tina, tests the limits of Kaoru's gentlemanly restraint with her open flirtation.


American Gods
American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 968
Review Date: 6/14/2005
Helpful Score: 2


Amazon.com's Best of 2001
American Gods is Neil Gaiman's best and most ambitious novel yet, a scary, strange, and hallucinogenic road-trip story wrapped around a deep examination of the American spirit. Gaiman tackles everything from the onslaught of the information age to the meaning of death, but he doesn't sacrifice the razor-sharp plotting and narrative style he's been delivering since his Sandman days.

Shadow gets out of prison early when his wife is killed in a car crash. At a loss, he takes up with a mysterious character called Wednesday, who is much more than he appears. In fact, Wednesday is an old god, once known as Odin the All-father, who is roaming America rounding up his forgotten fellows in preparation for an epic battle against the upstart deities of the Internet, credit cards, television, and all that is wired. Shadow agrees to help Wednesday, and they whirl through a psycho-spiritual storm that becomes all too real in its manifestations. For instance, Shadow's dead wife Laura keeps showing up, and not just as a ghost--the difficulty of their continuing relationship is by turns grim and darkly funny, just like the rest of the book.

Armed only with some coin tricks and a sense of purpose, Shadow travels through, around, and underneath the visible surface of things, digging up all the powerful myths Americans brought with them in their journeys to this land as well as the ones that were already here. Shadow's road story is the heart of the novel, and it's here that Gaiman offers up the details that make this such a cinematic book--the distinctly American foods and diversions, the bizarre roadside attractions, the decrepit gods reduced to shell games and prostitution. "This is a bad land for Gods," says Shadow.

More than a tourist in America, but not a native, Neil Gaiman offers an outside-in and inside-out perspective on the soul and spirituality of the country--our obsessions with money and power, our jumbled religious heritage and its societal outcomes, and the millennial decisions we face about what's real and what's not.


Angel: Earthly Possessions
Angel: Earthly Possessions
Author: Christopher Golden
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 7/27/2005


While attempting to drive a demon out of a possessed lawyer, Angel is given a well-timed hand by Father Noe, an excommunicated priest. Noe seems to be an expert at driving out demons, he`s known as The Exorcist to the Stars. But Angel has reason to believe there`s a darker reason for the Father`s success. Collecting issues #5-7 of the Angel monthly series, this trade paperback is brought to you by Christopher Golden (Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Watcher`s Guide), Tom Sniegoski (Real Worlds: Batman), Christian Zanier (Rising Stars), and Andy Owens (Buffy).


Angel: Surrogates
Angel: Surrogates
Author: Christopher Golden
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 7/17/2005


Angel is in deep trouble as he tries to solve a case involving a demonic fertility clinic. Just why are mothers being murdered and husbands turned into zombie-like guards? With the help of his sidekicks, Cordelia and Doyle, Angel is hot on the trail of the woman who may be responsible for the homicidal mayhem. But Angel is about to find out that catching up with her is the last thing he wants to do! Surrogates collects the first three issues of the hit Angel monthly comic series and follows the vampire avenger as he turns L.A. upside down!


Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, Bk 1)
Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, Bk 1)
Author: Dan Brown
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 483
Review Date: 9/2/2005
Helpful Score: 1


Brown's a formulaic writer with painfully predictable books, but he tells an entertaining tale that moves quickly and keeps your interest. I'm not a big fan, but this book was a fun read.


Anne Rice's Tale of the Body Thief
Anne Rice's Tale of the Body Thief
Author: Faye Perozich, Travis Moore, Daerick Gross
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 7/19/2005


Synopsis taken from Amazon.co.uk
The vampire Lestat, bestselling author Anne Rice's chilling creation, is back... in a graphic novel adaptation of The Tale of the Body Thief, part of the bloodsoaked Vampire Chronicles. Immortalised on screen by Tom Cruise in Interview With a Vampire, Lestat is the decadent, corrupt night dweller with a craving for human blood and the ethics of a snake. Now, transformed into a Dark God, Lestat embarks on his most surreal journey into the heart of darkness, wherein he must confront his own cursed immortality and the terrifying emptiness of his own soul. This time, the hunter has become the hunted! A horror classic, presented in graphic novel format.


Battle Royale, Book 1
Battle Royale, Book 1
Author: Koushun Takami, Masayuki Taguchi
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 39
Review Date: 12/2/2005
Helpful Score: 3


Extremely violent. Not for the faint of heart.


Bellwether
Bellwether
Author: Connie Willis
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 125
Review Date: 8/18/2005


Sandra Foster studies fads - from Barbie dolls to the grunge look - how they start and what they mean. Bennett O'Reilly is a chaos theorist studying monkey group behavior. They both work for the HiTek corporation, strangers until a misdelievered package brings them together. It's a moment of synchronicity - if not serendipity - which leads them into a chaotic system of their own, complete with a million-dollar research grant, caffe latte, tattoos, and a series of unlucky coincidences that leaves Bennett monkeyless, fundless, and nearly jobless. Sandra intercedes with a flock of sheep and an idea for a joint project. (Afterall, what better animals to study both chaos theory and the herd mentality that so often characterizes human behavior?) But scientific discovery is rarely straightforward and never simple, and Sandra and Bennett have to endure a series of setbacks, heartbreaks, dead ends, and disasters before they find their ultimate answer...


The Blood of Carthage (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Review Date: 8/3/2005


The gang is off to college and Buffy`s whole world is changing. How much education does a girl who`s destined to kill monsters her whole life really need? To quell her confusion, Buffy throws herself into Slaying with wild abandon and disastrous results. Her killing of Sunnydale`s answer to big foot may just bring about the rising of the demon Ky-Laag, and the end of the world. And the only group who know what`s going on and who want to stop it, the mysterious Blood of Carthage, also want to kill Buffy for starting it all. What`s a gal to do? This trade paperback collects issues #21-25 of the monthly series and is its longest and most involved storyline to date. The events in this story will have repercussions in the Buffy-verse for years to come, so do not miss it!


The Blue Hawk
The Blue Hawk
Author: Peter Dickinson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.9/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 8/9/2005


Review from amazon.com - Excellent YA fantasy; quasi-Egyptian setting, October 28, 1998
This is the best of the Peter Dickinson juveniles: in a kingdom somewhat like ancient Egypt, with failing harvests and contracting horizons, a young man has adventures. He winds up participating in the rescue of the whole land, joined by the new young king and an exiled priest.
While the above sounds like the standard fantasy, the book is both more subtle and less predictable. It is also very well written. The description of the hero's journey down the pseudo-Nile while hidden in the coffin of the old king is a high point.


Bone Building Body Shaping Workout : Strength Health Beauty In Just 16 Minutes A Day
Review Date: 8/25/2005


Great introduction to weight lifting for a beginner or home fitness enthusiast. Not so hot for an experienced exerciser or gym rat. Excellent reference for women, and an easy to follow, well illustrated approach to developing and sticking to your own fitness plan.


The Book of Ruth
The Book of Ruth
Author: Jane Hamilton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 583
Review Date: 6/12/2005


Amazon.com
Oprah Book Club® Selection, November 1996: The Book of Ruth is a virtuoso performance and that's precisely why it can be excruciating to read. Author Jane Hamilton leads us through the arid life of Ruth Grey, who extracts what small pleasures and graces she can from a tiny Illinois town and the broken people who inhabit it. Ruth's prime tormentor is her mother May, whose husband died in World War II and took her future with him. More poor familial luck has given Ruth a brother who is a math prodigy; Matt sucks up any stray attention like a black hole. Ruth is left to survive on her own resources, which are meager. She struggles along, subsisting on crumbs of affection meted out by her Aunt Sid and, later, her screwed-up husband Ruby. Hamilton has perfect pitch. So perfect that you wince with pain for confused but fundamentally good Ruth as she walks a dead-end path. The book ends with the prospect of redemption, thank goodness--but the tale is nevertheless much more bitter than sweet.


Bridge to Terabithia
Bridge to Terabithia
Author: Katherine Paterson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 686
Review Date: 7/19/2005
Helpful Score: 2


This is one of the best children's books I have ever read. It's a powerful, yet simple, story about friendship, life, and finding your place in the world. Despite being an award winner, this book is frequently banned - do yourself a favor and fight censorship by reading this wonderful tale!


Brothel : Mustang Ranch and Its Women
Brothel : Mustang Ranch and Its Women
Author: Alexa Albert
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 35
Review Date: 11/23/2005
Helpful Score: 2


This book is more sociology than erotica - an insider's perspective on one of the most curious and taboo jobs in this country. Very interesting, and a quick read. This book will challenge anyone's preconceived notions about prostitution and brothel life.


Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls
Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls
Author: Jane Lindskold
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 16
Review Date: 8/2/2005
Helpful Score: 3


Jane Lindskold has a truly unique writing style. I can't quite pin it down, but this book will probably be like nothing you've ever read. It's a sci-fi setting without really being sci-fi. The characters are "normal" enough that you can identify with them, but just different enough to be unique and absorbing.
The main character, Sarah, narrates in the first person, but she can only speak in broken phrases and quotes to her human companions. She primarily quotes Shakespeare or the Bible (the title is from Shakespeare, of course), but can speak freely with a toy dragon she carries with her. The setting feels dark and futuristic like Bladerunner, but the story is so focused on the characters and character development that setting takes a back seat.

I adore Jane Lindskold's writing, and hope this book gets the wide circulation it deserves. Please - give it a try!


Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Angel, Hollower
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Angel, Hollower
Author: Christopher Golden, Hector Gomez, Sandu Flore
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 6/7/2005


Buffy the Vampire Slayer has taken television audiences by storm and has brought its rabid audience to the world of comics. And now on the white-hot heels of Buffy`s spin-off companion series comes Angel: vampire hero, hunky heartthrob, and new comics icon. Following an encounter with a figure from his past, Angel must now face a horror that he had thought long destroyed: the Hollower, the only natural predator of the vampire. This hideous abomination, however, could hold the key to Angel`s salvation . . . or his destruction! And you can bet that if Angel`s in danger, a certain Slayer named Buffy`s not about to sit on the sidelines! Collecting the three-issue Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Angel series.


Catwoman
Catwoman
Author: Elizabeth Hand
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 8/2/2005


Theres a new Catwoman in towna feline adventuress unlike any youve seen before. Discover all her sizzling secrets as she cracks her whip and sinks her claws into her most petrifying, death-defying adventure yet.

Patience Philips is a shrinking violet, not exactly a career booster at competitive Hedare Beauty, the huge cosmetics corporation where shes a graphic designer. Self-conscious and easily unnerved, she hasnt a chance of escaping detection after she uncovers a dirty little secret in Hedares top-secret research laboratory. Discovery means death, but the real shocker is what happens afterward.

In the blink of a cats eye, the meek designer is gone, replacedthrough an ancient twist of fateby a sleek, self-assured woman with dark, dazzling powers: Catwoman. She has scores to settle, rooftops to roam, and a sinister underworld to prowl, as she stalks her destiny like a feral feline. She also has a good-looking detective on her trail, someone who has fallen for Patience, but is drawn to Catwoman.

As two mighty forces gear up for the ultimate showdown, the fur will fly. . . .

About the Author
Elizabeth Hand is the winner of both the Nebula and the World Fantasy Awards. She is the author of Winterlong, Waking the Moon, Glimmering, Last Summer at Mars Hill, and Black Light. A noted critic, she is a frequent book reviewer for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, The Washington Post Book Review, and The Village Voice. She lives in Maine with her family.


Catwoman Defiant
Catwoman Defiant
Author: Peter Milligan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/2/2005


A nice little insight into Catwoman - one in which she's able to step out of Batman's shadow and steal a little spotlight for herself. Great artwork, too!


Changer (Athanor, Bk 1)
Changer (Athanor, Bk 1)
Author: Jane Lindskold
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 19
Review Date: 8/2/2005


From the back of the book:
Wild, strange, and unpredictable, he is known as the Changer: the ultimate vagabond who slips in and out of myths and cultures, refusing to be pinned down to any one origin just as he refuses to be locked into any one shape--or name. Yet when a quest for vengeance forces him to shed animal form and seek out King Arthur, the Changer discovers that the darkest of dangers threaten the timeless realm. For Arthur's sworn enemies have risen once more to topple the king and spread chaos among humankind. The Changer himself will be the enemy's unwitting accomplice, unless he somehow stops the dreaded forces and diabolical powers threatening to destroy Arthur's kingdom--and all humanity.

This is probably my favorite book in the world, and has completley shifted my views on what "good" fiction should be. The book takes place in modern day America - King Arthur is living in a hacienda in New Mexico, USA, and the Changer happens to be enjoying life as a coyote in the nearby desert. Sasquatches communicate via internet chat rooms, and the Greek goddess Diana is King Arthur's personal assistant. It's a wild and wonderful premise, and Jane Lindskold pulls it off with amazing prose and a truly unique style. If you've never read anything by her, or if you normally shun Fantasy, please give this book a shot. It's *that* good!


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