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Review: Death Note Vol. 1: Boredom by Tsugimi Ohba

Title: Death Note Vol. 1: Boredom
Author: Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata
Series: Death Note Vol. 1
Genre: Manga
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal Purchase
Pub. Year: 2005
Purchase: Amz/B&N/TBD

Blurb from Amazon:
Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects – and bored out of his mind! But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, and notebook dropped by a rougue shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal… or his life?

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I love the Death Note anime so I had to read the manga that inspired it. I have to say, the anime stuck fairly close to the first volume of the manga.

Light Yagami finds a death note and starts using it to kill criminals of the world. He believes the world is “rotten place” so why not clean it up by getting rid of people who are guilty of committing crimes. His logic makes sense (at least it did to me). It also makes sense that he would do start killing people. His father is the commissioner of the NPA which is similar to the FBI so he is knowledgeable of the criminal system and how faulty it can be at times. In Light’s mind, he is not doing anything wrong; rather he is fighting for justice.

Light is an intelligent teenager. It shows in how gains access to his father’s computer, hence, why he knows the privileged information that only the NPA knows. He changes his tactics (not the method of killing) in order to get L to suspect the NPA of leaking information and L falls for it. Light goes out of his way to create a safe place for the death note. He creates a safe that will light up on fire if anyone tries to force their way in. He is calculating in how he outsmarts Raye in order to obtain his name because a name and a face are necessary to kill someone. If you don’t have one or the other, that person will not die. This fact was proven when L confronted Kira in the televised event.

The manga is fast paced. I think it cover about 4 episodes of the anime in one volume. Light wants the world to know that there is someone out there judging people for their crimes so he just kills people by heart attacks. The heart attacks become his signature move. The world ends up calling him “Kira” which is “killer” (that is not translation, Kira doesn’t mean killer, it just sounds like killer). Kira ends up confronting “L”, the world greatest detective who figures out Kira in Japan by broadcasting specific television events. It’s intense in the anime and in the manga (even if I knew what was coming). Raye Penber of the FBI is also introduced in the manga. Kira plants the seed of suspicion between the NPA and L so L has the FBI investigate the families of the officers.

Let’s talk art style because when it comes to manga, art is crucial. It was so strange to see Light as innocent face teenager when he first started using the death note. (In my head, he is always appears as he did in the final episode of the anime; manic and egoistical). I didn’t really care for the art. It wasn’t as dark as I expected it to be considering the subject matter. It was fairly light and soft except when it came to Ryuk, he was drawn with hard edges. It was still pretty good in bringing detail in to the pages. I like the fact that the rules of the death note are used as dividers between chapters. The basic rule is that a person whose name is written down will die of a heart attack in 40 seconds.

5 butterflies it receives from me. The concept if fantastic, the ideas spouted by Light and L make sense, and the storyline is pretty great.

5 BB- Total Keeper

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26 in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: First in a Series, M/G/V Challenge, Serial Killer, TV Addict,

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Review: XXXHolic Vol. 1 by Clamp

Title: XXXHolic
Author: Clamp
Series: XXXHolic Vol. 1
Genre: Fantasy manga
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal purchase
Pub. Year: 2004
Purchase: Amazon/ B&N/ TBD

Blurb from Amazon:
Watanuki Kimihiro is haunted by visions of ghosts and spirits. Seemingly by chance, he encounters a mysterious witch named Yuuko, who claims she can help. In desperation, he accepts, but realizes that he’s just been tricked into working for Yuuko in order to pay off the cost of her services. Soon he’s employed in her little shop—a job which turns out to be nothing like his previous work experience!

Most of Yuuko’s customers live in Japan, but Yuuko and Watanuki are about to have some unusual visitors named Sakura and Syaoran from a land called Clow. . .

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Cover Love: It’s so pretty. I love it.

I love this manga. The characters are fantastic and the artwork is beyond superb. Plus, the cover and the inside of the manga have beautiful butterflies.

Let’s meet our main characters. Watanuki can see ghosts, it’s a family tradition, but he no longer wishes to. In order for his wish to be fulfill, he has to work for Yuko until the cost of the wish equals the act of not seeing ghosts. I liked him right from the start. Not only does he wear glasses but he acts so serious in comparison to Yuko that it just makes it funny to see what Yuko is going to put him through. We don’t delve too much into his background but we do get to see that he is believing in and trying to understand what Yuko is telling him about the world he has stumble upon. His crush, Himawari Kunogi, also makes an appearance. Not too much on her but she is cute.

Yuko is the wish-granting witch who has serious moments of philosophy and turns around with a funny comment. She walks the fine line of being a mentor and being a comedy relief. She is really funny with her childish antics and remarks; I couldn’t wait to see what her conversations would turn out to be. She is definitely a complex person who hides her past behind an aloofness about life. She is really beautiful but the beauty carries in a mix of power as well. She is not just a pretty face.

The first volume takes place during the course of two jobs that Yuko takes on which have to deal with bad habits. I love the philosophy that she spouts. Bad habits can only be broken by the person committing bad habits and only if they are doing it for themselves. Or else the person doesn’t really quit their bad habits. The consequences for not dealing with bad habits can be quite severe and damaging. I did like the moral compass of the manga even as Yuko left one of her clients to fend for herself. Yuko can’t provide much help if her clients are just going to sidestep her.

The artwork is the best feature of manga. The clothes are wonderfully detailed and I envy the long legs of Yuko (and her wardrobe). The shading allows for dark images that give the manga a gothic look. The manga has gothic elements such as the mysterious witch that Yuko is, mysterious and strange events happening, the blurring of established lines, and all of it happening at a mysterious home.

It’s an interesting quirk that Clamp references it’s previous work in the manga such Cardcapter Sakura with the mentioning of Clow Reed and having Sakura show up at Yuko’s place. I’m looking forward to seeing what type of relationship did Yuko have with Clow Reed, after all, she did call him a “creep.”

It gets 5 black butterflies from me.

5 BB- Total Keeper

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10th book in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: 1st in a Series, Witches and Witchcraft, M/GN/VG, Where are you reading?-Japan

Review: Fury by Elizabeth Miles

Title: Fury
Author: Elizabeth Miles
Series: The Fury # 1
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Pub. Year: August 30, 2011
Purchase: Amazon / B & N

Blurb from Amazon:
It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems…

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better–the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel…something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.

Em and Chase have been chosen.

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Cover Love: Gorgeous, Flaming, Red Hair. Do not fall into the trap.

I know it’s label as a paranormal fantasy novel but it feels like a contemporary novel with a quick dash of paranormal elements thrown in for good measure. Fury works so much better as a contemporary novel than a paranormal one because the paranormal elements are missing. If I didn’t know Greek mythology, it would have taken forever for the concept of the Furies to sink in.

The novel focuses of Emily’s naivety when it comes to relationships and her lust for her best friend’s boyfriend, Zach. The majority of the drama comes from Emily’s emotions about betraying her best friend, Gabby, and hoping she will understand that Zach is better off with Emily than with Gabby. Talk about naïve. It’s very improbable that two best friends will say “He is better off with you. It doesn’t matter that both of you were dating behind my back and while I was still with him.”  This contemporary element of the novel  which is the realization of a girl understanding the consequences for lusting after a forbidden man and finally understanding what true love is even if the liaison was bittersweet could have carried the book alone. The Furies going after her because she is naïve in her thinking is a little bit harsh. Surely, they are worse people than Emily that deserve bad karma.

Chase was the one character that I did liked. He wasn’t a good guy but at first, he didn’t seem like a bad guy. It’s only after a certain incident that we learned that he pulled a terrible prank. It was bad and he probably deserved what he got in the end…maybe. (I have never been “an eye for eye” person). I initially did like him because he was the only one who appeared to be truly sympathetic about what happened to Sasha whereas everyone else was being fake in their concerned about Sasha. Plus, he was being tormented by his own friends, so yeah, I sided with him. Both, Emily and Chase, are painfully blind when it comes to their love interests.

The Furies element didn’t feel explained to me. Why Emily? She fell into the trap. Why not Zach who purposely knew what he was doing and had done it before to other girls? The target of the Furies felt misplaced and we didn’t get to know the three furies as individual characters. They were just as beautiful as they were creepy. I guess the problem was that Miles did not create her world properly or didn’t bother to explain the mythology behind the furies. Not everyone knows they are seekers of vengeance or that Furies come in three. From the way the Furies were being portrayed in the novel, they could have been seeking justice on behalf of the people that Emily and Chase hurt. Miles also chose Fury names similar to the ones Virgil named such as Ty is Tisiphone, Meg is Megaera, and Ali is Alecto. I had to memorize their names for the Greek mythology class I took. The point is the names are a nod to Virgil but it’s not obvious because Virgil is never mention. He is the one who said Furies comes in three because he named three of them. Other Greek authors have five or one or twenty but most people agree that there is three since three is a powerful number. I’m one of them and Miles is another since she has three Furies.

The only point where the mythology felt strong was in the end. The Furies were using their power to torment Emily and her geeky neighbor. I felt bad for the geek most of the time. It’s the only time in the book where it was quite obvious that the Furies were something paranormal. Half of the time, the reader could have thought of them as figment of either character’s imagination or stalkers.

To me, the biggest question that remain unresolved was why did Sasha break off her online friendship with Chase. Sasha and Chase were connecting emotionally and she just went cold turkey on him for no apparent reason or reason that I can see easily. I’m really curious as to what set her off.

In the end, Fury is a complete miss to me. The mythology felt weak to me because there wasn’t enough emphasis on the Furies and what they are. It’s not great writing when the main character doesn’t know what she did wrong or who the hell the Furies are. Think of it this way, it’s like a vampire book where “what a vampire is” is a foreign topic to the main character. “What a vampire is/ What a Fury is” is vital to understanding the book yet it is not there.  Perhaps there is no background history on the Furies because it’s going to be explained in the second book but I don’t think I’m going to pick up the second book because I was reading this book for the mythological elements which are severely missing. Emily is not what I was interested in. She is secondary to me. Maybe I will pick it up if the cover manages to deceive me again.

2.5 BB- Look for in the library

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9th book in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: First in a series, YA Mythology, Where are you reading?-Ascension, Maine

Reviews: Dark Shadows by D.J Arneson

Title: Dark Shadows: The Original Series Story Digest Interrupted Voyage
Author: D.J. Arneson
Illustrated by: Joe Carta
Series: Standalone
Genre:  Supernatural, Horror
Source: Netgalley
Format: Galley
Pub. Year: Feb. 15, 2012
Purchase: B&N /Amazon
I received this book free of charge from Netgalley in return for an honest opinion.

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What I will remember: A great mix of supernatural creatures.

I had to get this book from Netgalley, it’s Dark Shadows. It was a gothic drama on daytime TV in the late 60’s -70’s and again in the late-90’s. If that doesn’t captivate someone, Johnny Depp is playing Barnabas in the new Dark Shadows film by Tim Burton. My favorite combination, Depp and Burton.

Dark Shadows

Barnabas and Quentin

I absolutely love the artwork that accompanies the book. The art has an old feel to it which I love. It has very dark tones and shades. The best part is that it accompanies the storyline so the pictures capture moments in the story. Plus, all the characters are drawn there so there is no need for a physical description of them. It may have to do with the fact the story was written while Dark Shadows was on TV. I wished I knew what the art style was called so I could better explain it.

Story wise, I love it. It is a gothic tale through and through. We have Annabelle as the ghost, Barnabas as the vampire turned human, Angelique as the evil sister of Annabelle, and Calandra the witch. Oh, and Michael the zombie as well. The setting also contributes to the gothic feeling. It is a shore city where the inhabitants don’t trust strangers and are into burning at the stake. Plus, it is a tragic love story where the lovers (Annabelle and Michael)  are both dead and are trying to reunite with each other in the afterlife. A very lovely story.

The bonus features at the end is something that I really enjoyed. It mainly consists of the photographs of the original Dark Shadows with Jonathan Frid as Barnabas.  Some photos are of the cast posing for pictures and a few screenshots. Most are in black and white but some are in color.

Final thoughts on Dark Shadows, it is awesome. The artwork reminds me of the style use in comic books. It has an eclectic mix of supernatural creatures and somehow it makes sense for a witch to control a zombie. It is a gothic tale. Plus, Johnny Depp is going to be in the film adaptation and so is Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix from Harry Potter and Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd) but more important, Tim Burton is directing it. I totally have to see this film. The only thing that would make this film even more exciting would be having Alan Rickman in it. Oh, I love him.  Hmm, getting off topic. Um, this is a five for me because I’m a huge fan of Dark Shadows and the movie has me pretty hype up.

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5 BB- Total Keeper

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows Photo Promo (from Teaser Trailer)