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yoz0ra

Yoz0ra Reads

I'm a college student. Manga, Light Novels, etc.

Currently reading

Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Bill Schutt
The Song of Achilles
Madeline Miller
Progress: 118/276 pages

Ink

Ink - Bart Leib, Sabrina Vourvoulias

DNF: Page 73

 

Unfortunately, this book belongs to the "great story idea, but lousy execution" pile. I'm over 50 pages in, but I have yet to see the story take off somewhere. It felt like the story was going to move when Mari gets kidnapped, but all of sudden we switched to another character dealing with their own issues.

 

The writing is very disorganized and lacks flow which doesn't help when there are multiple POVs in the story. The POV characters don't stand out to me nor possess any unique traits. As a result, I don't feel any connection to the main characters and the supporting cast. The supernatural elements felt tacked on and unneccessary. Reading about the dystopian stuff and transitioning to the magic stuff felt jarring in this book. I usually like reading things that mix-up genres and elements, but here in this book, it felt like two different stories were shoved together into one small box with little breathing room. The story already has an intriguing concept, a dystopia where every immigrant is tracked down by the government, that it didn't need the addition of the supernatural. 

 

There was a great story hiding within the pages, but I'm sad that it didn't come out from its hiding place. 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 66 out of 306 pages.

Ink - Bart Leib, Sabrina Vourvoulias

The story now switched POV sides. Now, the narrator is Mari and her part is exciting to read. However, her voice sounds the same as Finn. The plot feels random with one thing happening after another without some breathers between important events makes the story's plot confusing. The story flow is rough and could use a few edits to make the story understandable and smooth.          

Reading progress update: I've read 40 out of 306 pages.

Ink - Bart Leib, Sabrina Vourvoulias

I don't see any chemistry between Mari and Finn. The part where Finn starts kissing Mari came out of nowhere for me. It felt like it was interested in the story at the last minute before publication.

 

I'm on fence now. The book currently is not hooking me in, but I wonder if I should continue in hopes the story does get better. Or DNF this book now? The premise is intriguing, but the execution is meh for me. Also, I found Finn to be a boring character at the moment. I'm hoping the other narrators will be interesting. I'm going to have a hard time reading if the characters are no different from Finn.

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to find the Good Death

From Here to Eternity: Travelling the World to Find the Good Death - Caitlin Doughty, Orion

I had a code for a free two-month membership to Scribd from Groupon, and I used it when I found out that this audiobook is available on the website. 

 

I had a difficult time putting down this audiobook because I found the narration sounded smooth and was eager to learn more about the different death rituals. Caitlin does an excellent job of talking about death and stuff related to it without being too depressing. She describes the various death rituals with respect and describes in detail. My favorite parts were the parts about the lighted-up Buddhas in Japan and the only open fire pyre in America. I also learned more about the funeral industry internationally and here in the United States.

 

I wish I learned more about the US funeral industry and the various laws related to a person's death sooner because I would have used some of that knowledge to help out my family when they did funerals for relatives. The parts where Caitlin explained about the American funeral industry reminded me of what happened two years ago when my uncle died.

 

My uncle wanted to be buried, so my mom had to look for a cemetery and casket. She had a difficult time finding those things that were affordable. She found someone (a person close to my uncle) that let my mom use the burial plot for my uncle for free, but finding a casket was a challenge. My mom had to beg the funeral home to order the cheapest casket she saw online because the ones they offer to her were ridiculously expensive (unfortunately my memories are kind of bad on this part, but I recall my mom saying finding a casket was a pain in the butt). The entire funeral cost (including a ceremony, burial, etc.) was expensive even with the cheapest options my family chose. I think the price was around ~$10,000. My mom, unfortunately, learned the hard way how challenging and costly it is to make funeral preparations.

 

I hope with this newfound knowledge I received from this audiobook will help out in the future.        

 

 

 

Yes

I just found out today that Banana Fish is available in digital format. I have the first three volumes in physical form, but I'm going to buy later volumes in digital format cause I have no room on my shelf.

 

Yay, Fruits Basket is available in digital format. Now, I will have to wait for Requiem of the Rose King to receive the digital treatment (Currently have nine volumes in print).  

Sakuran

Sakuran: Blossoms Wild - Moyoco Anno

The story presentation was okay. The pacing was odd at certain parts of the books, and the plot is told in a non-linear kind of way. The manga held no punches of what life is like for a courtesan in red-light districts. I strongly remember the lectures the lives of girls sold to brothels (in Japan and abroad) during my Modern Japan class I took last year. The book captures the unglamorous and challenging parts of these women's lives well. Reading about Kiyoha's hardships makes me appreciate that I live in a place where I don't have to go through what she went through and remember the girls who are in Kiyoha's shoes out in today's world.     

 

The artwork was expressive but it was difficult to tell which character was speaking or doing what. I had to re-read some parts to figure out which one is Kiyoha or Mikumo. I eventually figured it out the characters by looking at their eyes, but sometimes that trick doesn't help me all the time. The layout of the word bubbles in a few spots also makes reading difficult due to not telling which character is speaking. It might not be an issue in Japanese because you can tell the characters apart by the way they speak. But in English, the characters sound identical most of the time. I wouldn't be surprised if there were any other readers like me that double check to make sure they got the character right.

 

The manga gives an unflinching look at the life of oiran with bold artwork that shows off the characters' emotions well with a few hiccups in the story.   

Reading progress update: I've read 59 out of 276 pages.

The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller

It looks likes the plot's moving even though it's a repeat of what previously happened. The narrator accompanies Achilles again with some private teaching lessons, but this time the lessons are going to be taught by Chiron.  Sooner or later, Achilles' mom would probably arrive and interrupts the MC and Achilles' bonding (I hope that doesn't happen). 

 

Anyway, I hope this pattern doesn't repeat itself for most of the book. The main character so far is a lot more tolerable than Circe.

 

Edit: Fixed the total number of pages.

SPOILER ALERT!

Last and First Idol

Last and First Idol - TNSK, Gengen Kusano, Andrew Cunningham

I first heard of this book at the J-Novel Panel at Anime Expo last year. What caught my attention the most during the announcement was that the titular short story started as a Love-Live fanfiction. I started reading the novel when the J-Novel club released different parts of the three short stories weekly before the full book came out. Before I began reading the weekly releases, I thought the stories were going to scream "moe" and filled with the kind of stuff I saw in some sci-fi anime with cute characters.

Wow, I was wrong about my predictions for this story collection. The stories were anything but ordinary sci-fi. Each story was bizarre but in a good way. My favorite mash-up in the story was the Evo Gals one which combined evolution with gacha games. Surprisingly both of those things mix well. Reading about the idol activities done in the title story was macabre but somewhat funny to those who don't mind dark humor. Reading about space whale mating and using the whale's body as a spaceship in Dark Seiyuu was amusing.

The author and the translator both do an excellent job of maintaining the right balance of describing objects and the characters' actions without being too convoluted. The way the destruction of the Earth in Dark Seiyuu when gravity ceases was vivid and took my breath away. So was the brain removal procedure featured in Last and First Idol. I can feel my eyeballs and brain popping out of my head.

After I finished reading the first time, I purchased the ebook version to read again. Reading the stories the second time made me appreciate the stories more since I gain a better grasp of the scientific terms mentioned in the stories. Even when I reread the book, I still feel the wonder I've experienced the first time.

I highly recommend buying this book and reading it multiple times.

I've decided to put up my reviews here manually. Fortunately, I wrote six reviews before I was on this website, so I didn't have a mountain load to deal with. The only reviews I didn't re-post on here is Last and First Idol and I want to eat your Pancreas. The reason they didn't appear here is that they're not in the book database for this website (I'm guessing this also the reason rest of my books didn't show up on here). Fortunately, adding new books on this website is simple. I'm going to do that eventually. 

ttyl - Lauren Myracle

When the series came out years ago during my pre-teen/teenage years, I wasn't interested in reading the books because I thought the books were trying too hard to be cool and relevant with the IM messaging and pop culture references. I was also not interested in reading about contemporary school stuff because I couldn't relate to the characters and stuff that happens in the genre among other reasons (with a few exceptions).

I decided to gave this book a shot since I received it as part of my Banned Books Week 2018 humble bundle. So I read the entire book within a couple of days (forgot the actual dates), but I didn't like it. I liked the fast pacing, but I felt the way it handled difficult topics to fall flat. The book and the series had the potential for me if it approached the topics with care, but it didn't. It felt "tacked" on for me. I didn't like the characters, and I found it hard to tell them apart since they have the same voice to me.

SPOILER ALERT!

Glitter Review

Glitter - Aprilynne Pike

Whoa, was this book a wild ride.

 

 

I had difficulty getting in the story due to rushed pacing, and it threw me in the middle of Dani's first meeting with the drug dealers. Once the details about how Dani got into contact with the drug dealers and her mom trying to have Dani marry to the king, the story becomes a lot easier to understand.

 

I thought the world-building was beautiful. It had an excellent balance of providing the right amount of information without rambling on for 10+ pages or having little to none explanation. An example of this great world-building was when Saber explains the war that happened in his home country, how he became Reginald's slave and the way slave system works in the Glitter universe. The way it was written felt natural and didn't sound awkward. However, I wish there was a more detailed explanation of Versailles court etiquette. The map of Versailles in the book was useful to give an idea of how big the building is and compare room sizes. So, I am a little disappointed that there was no similar chart made about the futuristic Versailles court rules and the meaning of the French words. Fortunately, there was enough context in the sentences to get a better idea of what the French words mean.

 

At first, I thought I was going to dislike Dani. Surprisingly, she has become one of my personal favorite YA main characters. Dani is a complex character compared to a lot of YA characters I've encountered in the past. She has good qualities like caring for her friends and being competent at math. However, Dani has a fair share of flaws like being selfish at times and underestimating a few of her enemies. The story shows why she sometimes does some questionable actions, but she remains a sympathetic character throughout the entire story.

 

What I also liked about this book was that unlike most recent YA books that are available everywhere, the main character's actions have serious consequences that affect her hard like how she unintentionally kills her mother and her best friend, Molli to name one example. Not to mention, Dani learns the hard way about why she shouldn't put a lot of trust in an immoral drug dealer like Reginald. 

 

I can't believe the book ended at a cliff-hanger. The story was getting to the meaty parts. Fortunately, the sequel is out. So, I will check it out as soon as possible.

(show spoiler)

         

     

It looks like not all of reviews and books got imported on this website as of this writing. Understandable since I have a lot of books. So, if you want to read some of my previous reviews, go to my Goodreads profile and see them there for now.

 

For my future reviews, I'm going to post them on here (and Goodreads due to the sync feature). 

Introduction

Hello, I'm Yoz0ra. College Student. Otaku/Manga and Anime fan.

My major is Japanese, and I plan on obtaining an MLIS in the future.

I usually write reviews for novels (stand-alone and sometimes series).

Despite being a manga fan, I don't write a review for them frequently because a lot of the series is ongoing. I will write a review for a manga series if the series concludes or the manga is a one-shot. The same rule applies to comics/graphic novels as well. For some reason, I find writing reviews for novels easier than manga or comics. With manga and comics, I need to examine the stories and the artwork closely which takes time, which is why I wait for the series to end to write down my thoughts on the work overall.

I usually write a review for ongoing works if for some reason I didn't like the work.
 
I have a Goodreads account here:
 

 

 

American Gods

American Gods - Ron McLarty, Dennis Boutsikaris, Daniel Oreskes, Neil Gaiman

I'm on the fence about what rating should I give to this title. Even though the score I put down is three stars, a 3.5 rating is more accurate.

This alternate version is the first time I checked out this story, so I can't compare how it is to the original text. The first part of the story was enjoyable, and I was hooked from the opening scene in the first chapter. But during the second part, the pacing dragged to a slow pace, and many characters showed up, and that made it hard to keep track of who's doing something or not. Fortunately, the story improved during the final parts of the book; sadly the third part was short compared to the second part. So, I couldn't enjoy it to the fullest.

I loved the cast's performance and made it kind of easy to keep track of the characters. I enjoyed the author's parts because I enjoy seeing glimpses of behind the scene stuff that inspires the work to be what it is.

I'm thinking of checking out the original version of the book to compare with this version. I hope re-reading the story would help me enjoy it more than the first time.

(show spoiler)
SPOILER ALERT!

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas (Light Novel) - Yoru Sumino

This was a heart-warming yet sad story. I thought this story would be slow to read, but I'm surprised how fast I completed the book. I liked how the story handles a couple of serious topics without being too dreary or too blah. The way it was approached reminds me of Caitlin Doughty's Ask A Mortician web videos. The message of the book shows death as something that happens (with or without warning) and it's sad and it's also okay to not feel okay and cry your heart out. Another important message was living your life to fullest doesn't mean doing anything extravagant, it means to do the things you enjoy even if it's simple like eating at a ramen stand. One another important lesson the book has is to talk about your feelings or worries to your loved ones before it's too late. I felt the story did an excellent job of providing those messages without being a super sentimental after school special.

I really loved Sakura and her sense of humor. I admit a few of her comments made me smile. The main character also seems like a fun person to hang out with (Bookstore trip? Yes, please.) I admit Kyoko was a hard character to sympathize at first, but she eventually grew on me.

I highly recommend this book.

Circe Review

Circe - Madeline Miller, Perdita Weeks

DNF: 26%

I'm not fond of writing negative reviews, but I'm sorry to say that this story didn't sweep me off my feet.

Before I started the audiobook, I read the synopsis and bits of the positive reviews. I thought that this story was for me because the story sounded so exciting. I was going to experience a thrilling adventure filled with high stakes and larger than life characters similar to the epics from yesteryears.

Instead of an adventure, what I've got was some boring high school teen drama in Ancient Greece. The main character, Circe is an outcast in the Ancient Greek pantheon due to not inheriting some god-like physical looks. She explains how the other gods and other members make fun of her appearance and voice like calling her a "freak." I find that reason not making any sense because there are other gods and creatures with unusual features. All of the name-calling and such makes sense if it takes place in an American high school. However, this story takes place in Ancient Greece. I wanted to listen to a story that made me feel like I'm in Ancient Greece, not skimming over an entry from a teenager's diary. The story's pacing was slow, and it didn't grab my attention most of the times I listened. No matter how I tried to engage myself with the story, my mind wanders off somewhere else.

As a woman, I don't understand how this book is female empowering. The main character, Circe, doesn't have a lot of agency and personality. For example, when Helios punishes Circe, she doesn't stand up to him or do anything to fight back. Instead, Circe begs him to stop hurting her and pleads for his forgiveness. The other female characters besides Circe were treated just as bad or worse. Circe has no positive relationships with the other goddesses and nymphs. Her relationships with them are always antagonistic. She sees the other female characters as vain, gossipy, and heartless among other names. The reason for Circe's banishment was that she turned her rival into a monster. The reason was Circe wasn't happy when her rival got together with her crush. Hearing how Circe talks about the other women made me wince due to the whole "not like other girls" vibe.

I liked the narrator's voice and the poetic feel of the writing. Those two were the reason I kept on listening until I chose to drop this audiobook. I have The Song of Achilles which is by the same author. I'm going to try reading that book during Spring Break if I have the time. I hope I enjoy that one.