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Almost Human Cancelled

Not exactly book news, but I remember a discussion on this topic recently. Figured I'd share the news for those have not heard:

Almost Human is cancelled.

Way. To. Go. Fox. Way to go.

Not that I expected any better from Fox, but still.

R.I.P. You'll be remembered alongside the likes of Firefly, The Sarah Connor Chronicles ( hey, I liked it ), and....I'm sure there's others. I just can't remember right now what else I liked. x.x

Edit: Is it Canceled of Cancelled? Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, and Google all give different ( or multiple ) answers.

As usual. All things gaming..

Endgame - Nenia Campbell

So. Considering getting this. Gaming premise? I'm -all- over that.


But I'm wondering if anyone's read this and if they enjoyed it? I ask because I can't "sort reviews by friends!" on Booklikes -- or if there's a way, I haven't found it yet.

Ghost in the Shell

The Ghost in the Shell - Masamune Shirow

I was [-] close to ordering this -- and then checked the reviews. And it's the censored version -- not censored in the context of "Oh, there's boobs! Put mosiacs over that," but entire scenes are removed due to nudity being prominent in them. And some of those scenes come back to haunt ( pun intended ) the characters.

For anyone not aware, though:

Ghost in the Shell deals with the "soul" inside of sentience -- more specifically, machines. It asks the question:

"At what point do we constitute life?"

Humans begin replacing appendages and organs with cybernetic enhancements, near-android-like-people walk the streets, and the web is basically everywhere. You can "jack in" to almost anything, and a lot of people (see: cybernetic people and sentient machines) can connect to it straight from their bodies, ala The Matrix. Only without the painful looking cerebral cortex spike.

That's the underlying theme, though. There's ... so much going on, at any given moment. Motoko ( Major Kusanagi -- purple haired protagonist ) and her teams past, cyber terrorism, machines feeling as though they have a soul, the technological advancement that removes more and more "humanity" and puts more emphasis on cybernetics and the cyber world, etc.

There's a lot of subliminal messaging scattered throughout, too, which I thought was interesting. A big example of this can be found in the Tachikoma -- they're the walking/rolling AI machines that often assist Motoko throughout her field work.


They're often the ones who, in their own subtle way, ask, "Do we deserve to live? Are we not also alive?" -- and do things outside of their own programming on a regular basis. Or rather, it errs JUST within the side of being an irregularity.

Their conversations with each other give rise to individual personalities within the machines. They begin to form nuances that resemble humans, opinions that defer outside of the normal programming routine of AI, and begin to think not just outside the box, but in creative methods. They begin to express feelings of remorse, regret, happiness, joy -- and ask, "What are these feelings? Why do we have them? HOW did we get them?"

But those questions are never blatantly asked -- they're sort of nudged at through their conversations with each other and with the team. And when a new Tachikoma unit is put into service, we can almost SEE the "social influence" on the machines -- how they form groups with each other, despite not having that kind of logic inside their programming.

While not an official review, Ghost in the Shell ( and the sub-universe of Stand Alone Complex ) is definitely a 5/5. One of the very few things I absolutely, completely, loved -- and would recommend everyone watching/reading at least once.


The uncensored version is out of print, and is expeeeeensiiiiive. I suppose it'll go on the "maybe someday when I really need something to cheer me up and don't care how much it costs" list.


Gin Tama, vol 1 - Hideaki Sorachi

I've been on an anime kick lately, so I figured I'd do a short post about this one.

I've watched and read Gintama from the very beginning, but only just now did I realize that it's outscoring Full Metal Alchemist in both "critic" reviews and user reviews.

This is definitely not a manga/anime for just anyone -- there are very few "serious" parts. It takes every stereotype, cliche, and trope and twists it into some hilarious version and turns up the volume on them by ten.


It deals with a lot of modern day themes and occurrences, usually with very black humor, and never seems to take itself too seriously. Yet somehow, I found the story very engaging from the very first episode.





Aliens invade the world and a big war followed -- how the other nations fared, we don't know, but the samurai of Japan lost. And they lost hard.

To add insults to injury, the aliens then begin taking all the "human" jobs and putting millions out of work. ( this isn't racist, I swear! They're ACTUALLY aliens.)

The aliens then confiscate all swords and ban their carrying in Japan, due to the war. All across the country, samurai are left to take odd jobs, and that is true of our main character, former samurai Sakata Gintoki.

The Setting:

There's a mixture of modern and feudal Japan at work -- we have sword wielding samurai in front of a backdrop of highly advanced alien technology. Spaceships vs steel-forged swords.

We have the classic feel of a feudal Japan in a lot of areas, then the highly industrialized alien zones who enjoy their cushy lifestyle as being the "conquering species."

The Characters:

The main character is Sakata "Gin" Gintoki, a former samurai who fought against the invading aliens in the war. He was so good that he was nicknamed Shiroyasha -- which means "The White Demon."

After the war, he starts up a company that "handles all jobs," with barely making enough money to get by -- with only two other employees.

One is Shimura Shinpachi, a weak-willed but level-headed trainee under Gintoki, and  the other is Kagura -- who looks human, but is actually an alien with immense physical strength.

That being sad, the lack of "direction" is the one major flaw of this series. Each episode is more or less stand-alone, save a few arcs that happen from time to time.

Summary: 3 / 5
Recommended: Only for people who like a lot of "fluff" in their anime -- not bad fluff, just a lot of comedy fluff with no real story beyond the day-to-day ( though not quite Slice of Life.)

Blue Exorcist Volumes 1 - 9

Blue Exorcist Volume 01 - Kato Kazue

This is, arguably, different from most types of anime and manga that I do watch -- which tend to be more on the side of either mecha, heavy back-stabbing politics and assassinations, and dark/horror stories.

That being said, I couldn't help but find myself very vested in the main character.

Amazon Summary:


Raised by Father Fujimoto, a famous exorcist, Rin Okumura never knew his real father. One day a fateful argument with Father Fujimoto forces Rin to face a terrible truth – the blood of the demon lord Satan runs in Rin’s veins! Rin swears to defeat Satan, but doing that means entering the mysterious True Cross Academy and becoming an exorcist himself. Can Rin fight demons and keep his infernal bloodline a secret? It won't be easy, especially when drawing his father’s sword releases the demonic power within him!

The Characters:

The main character, Rin Okumura, is your typical bratty teenager at the start of Volume 1.

After a rather nasty argument with his adoptive father ( who is the strongest Exoricst of his time ), Fujimoto's strong will weakens JUST enough for Satan to posses him.

Satan, being strong, begins to decay the body of Fujimoto right in front of Rin's eyes, revealing that Rin is in fact Satan's son -- and to embrace his true, dark nature.



Rin himself goes through some amazing changes through the course of nine volumes. Life forces him to grow up -- quickly.

Even more so, because he is Satan's son, his power is often wild and uncontrollable. His flame has been shown to threaten the lives of his adoptive-brother and friends alike.


His interactions with everyone over the course of the volumes just gets better and better. There's a few "low" points, but otherwise the story is absolutely amazing.


Rin's brother, Yukio Okumura, is a well-established Exorcist in his own right, also has some good interactions throughout the story -- but really, Rin steals most of the show.

And then there's Mephisto.

Mephisto is the ambiguous character in this series. He's a demon -- and not just any normal demon, but the second strongest of the Eight Demon Kings, just below his brother Lucifer. He is also an Exorcist, and runs an Exorcist School. At times, he can be seen helping Rin from behind the shadows, but it's hard to say what his goal is -- is he helping Rin grow stronger for the friendship he had with Fujimoto, or is he doing this advance Satan's cause?

Summary : 4 / 5.
Recommended : Anyone who likes good characterization, manga/anime in general, or demon-exorcist based stories!


Hopeless  - Colleen Hoover

[Edit: For some reason, a small chunk is missing. Putting it back in. ]

About a year late on this one, but I finally read it. Glad I did, and now wonder why I waited for so long. Another non-lengthy review, since most people have probably read it.

For those that haven't: it's good. It's very, very good.

I don't really want to say too much, since it'll feel cheap, but the big reveal of the story angered me at first -- then shocked me, then angered me some more at a completely different person.

It was very touching, and moving. I don't know how accurately the psychological implications of all that were, but I never once had any DISBELIEF of it being possible.

Quick Overview:

The main heroine, Sky, lives a very sheltered life. Her mother won't allow her to have any form of technology, even a TV, and she's been home schooled all her life -- right up to the books beginning, where she's about to embark to high school.

Prior to going to school, she runs into the lead male: Dean Holder. Everything changes based off of that chance encounter, for both of them.

At first, I thought he was a bit of a weirdo, but as the story progresses, and we learn more about Dean, I found myself sympathizing with him a lot more -- then actually appreciating his sort of blunt, flippant honesty.

The only reason this was not a perfect five star read for me -- towards the end, it felt a little rushed. I wanted things drawn out a bit more, but other than that, it was absolutely amazing.

Summary: 4/5
Recommended: Yes. To..well. Everyone. I don't know anyone I wouldn't recommend this to.

Valkyria Chronicles

Valkyria Chronicles: Design Archive - Tsuyashi Kudou, M. Kirie Hayashi

While not strictly a book in a normal sense, I figured that this at least warranted a brief post.

The compendium, as well as the game, are absolutely amazing. They resemble watercolor paintings, in a digital fashion, which brings a lot of the characters and scenery to life -- and ages very well ( most games, and some anime, don't age well ).

The story is very, very fleshed out -- the Design Archive goes through every character, their back stories, their loyalties, the story itself, the politics going on in the backdrop of a world heading towards another war, ancient history, and tons of amazing concept art for the game.

The game, meanwhile, fully lives up to what the Design Archive -- and gaming reviews -- state: the story is heartbreaking on many levels, and the strategy involved allows for a great, great deal of freedom.

I don't get pulled into very many books or games on a deep emotional level -- maybe something is wrong with me, or I'm just picky as all hell. But sometimes, certain things just strike a cord, and it just WORKS for me.

Summary: 5/5 ( how rare for me )
Recommended: Absolutely. For almost anyone who enjoys damn good art, great story telling, or people who want to play the game / have played the game ( not necessary, though. The game just adds even more layers upon layers of depth and interaction. )

Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online: Aincrad (manga) - Reki Kawahara, Tamako Nakamura

I watched the fan-translated anime, then read the fan-translated light novels, then read the fan-translated Manga before finally getting my hands on this. So I knew what to expect going in.

When I first watched Sword Art Online, I thought it was the greatest "VR-MMO" experience a person could want, but after reading it again after some time has passed, along with experiencing other VR-MMO medium ( Log Horizon [ Anime + Light Novel ], Legendary Moonlight Sculptor [ Korean Light Novel ], and Ark [ Another Korean Light Novel ] ) -- I would have to rank Sword Art Online among the bottom of the group. But not at the VERY bottom.



Amazon Summary:

In the year 2022, gamers rejoice as Sword Art Online - a VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) like no other - debuts, allowing players to take full advantage of the ultimate in gaming technology: NerveGear, a system that allows users to completely immerse themselves in a wholly realistic gaming experience. But when the game goes live, the elation of the players quickly turns to horror as they discover that, for all its amazing features, SAO is missing one of the most basic functions of any MMORPG - a log-out button. Now trapped in the virtual world of Aincrad, their bodies held captive by NerveGear in the real world, users are issued a chilling ultimatum: conquer all one hundred floors of Aincrad to regain your freedom. But in the warped world of SAO, "Game Over" means certain death - both virtual and real...

The Setting:

As usual, I love all things gaming related. I was completely absorbed in the concept of being "trapped" in an MMO. There are VERY few anime/manga/light novels that cover this premise -- the last one I had read being the .hack series of anime, which had already begun to show their age ( and that was yeaaaars ago ).

It started off on a very good note, hitting a lot of the key components that you would find in realistic modern MMO's, along with the usual crude humor and jokes that come along with it ( "GIRL: Guy In Real Life" ) -- which, hilariously, is exposed when everyone is reverted to their physical forms within the game. Which we get to see "beautiful women" turn into ...well. You get the idea.

Thankfully, both stereotypes ( unattractive men + only men playing women in MMO's ) are dying, and Sword Art Online conveys this by showing a fair number of ALL types of people. That was something I was thankful for.

But that was where everything started to fall apart for me ( on my second read through. On my first I was still in love with SAO ) -- in reality, any kind of "Virtual" environment would probably be a really, really dark place. No repercussions for your actions, "power" ( in the form of levels and magic ), and all that goes with it. But I can overlook that, given the target audience, and trudge on.

Yet we're never really given more to the world of Aincrad ( The MMO world ) -- there's none of the rich lore or interesting things you'd EXPECT to find in an MMO. It's just rehash after rehash. If Sword Art Online were a real MMO, it would've been as generic as you can possibly get. Even the world of .hack was more interesting, despite its age!

Just to stop people here. There is none of this:

Not even close.

The Characters:

Our main character is Kirito. When he is turned back into his physical form, he goes from a lean, muscled guy to a slightly androgynous guy -- but by no means ugly.

As a former closed-beta tester for SAO, he knows the in's and out's of the game like the back of his hand. He uses this knowledge to quickly gain levels and power in the MMO, but doesn't really do much with it.

As a main character, Kirito is a card-board cutout. He doesn't seem to have much in the way of ambition, goals, or trials -- because of his intimate knowledge of SAO, he breezes past almost all obstacles ( to the point that he gets a unique skill that ONLY one person in the game can get -- which he gets very, very, very early ).

It's that unique skill, and how ridiculously OP ( over powered ) he is that I realized -- there wasn't any real DRAMA.

This is what ultimately killed SAO for me. The fact that the main character was just ... Gary Stu. He could do ANYTHING and not even blink about it. It completely broke the story to the degree that I just couldn't even imagine the possibility of him struggling. With anything.

Sure, there's a morality conflict when he groups with another player ( and said player tries to get Kirito killed, but Kirito survives and the player dies to monsters ) -- but there's not much that really...happens, I guess? There's no -struggle- until the VERY end of the second volume ( which this manga covers ), and by then I stopped caring.

The main heroine, Asuna, had a few moments, which ranged from interesting to cliche, but she was more fleshed out than Kirito was -- yet she still lacked the "life" that others seem to be able to put into their manga characters.

I did like the fact that their romance was fairly well done, and a little on the endearing, but it wasn't enough to ultimately pull the rest of the volume up in quality.

The Plot:

The entire goal was to escape the MMO -- in order to escape, players had to clear the 100-floors of the hardest dungeon in the game. This premise starts off engaging, but quickly becomes cast aside in favor of showing Kirito doing other things or romancing with Asuna -- up to the very end.

Ultimately, Sword Art Online just didn't live up to the quality of other anime/manga that I love.

Rating - 2.5 / 5
Recommended : It's okay for a one time read through, but I wouldn't expect it to deliver on the amazing hype ( it's one of the most popular light novels ).

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion -- Anime, Mostly

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion - Goro Taniguchi, Majiko!

A couple friends of mine have been asking me if I've read any good manga / watched any good anime lately. They're pretty new, so this is the first title I recommended to them.

I rarely ever, EVER, give out "5 stars" for any manga/anime or books. I think Harry Potter is one of the few that I loved so much as to give it the full five -- even legendary FMA was only four ( >.>;; .... don't hate me. You know who you are. )

But this? This anime is one of the few I could watch over and over again. It has almost everything a person could want from a series.


  • Well done drama
  • Suspense
  • Action
  • Intelligent male and female characters
  • Mecha ( giant robots! )
  • Love ( not just main characters, but even supporting characters - and never insta-love )
  • Rivalry

The concepts of loyalty, "how far would you go for someone you love," honor, friendship, family ( and the question: who is your real family? Those you share blood with, or those you spill blood with? ), and sacrifice are constantly an underlying theme to all the politics, manipulation, and action scenes.

The main character is disgustingly strong -- both because of his intelligence and an acquired ability. Yet he still loses, and he loses hard. There are some truly gut-wrenching moments throughout the course of season one and two.


For those interested: Watch the anime first. The manga are more of a " What if ... " scenario.

The Game by Terry Schott

The Game - Terry Schott

Edit: Oh, this book is currently free as an eBook on Amazon ( as of the time of this writing ).

I could get over the awkward sentence structure, and I could even overlook the grammar errors. What really took away from The Game was that the novel fell into the traps that plague the sci-fi genre as a whole.


More on that below.




Amazon Summary:

"What if life as we know it was just a game?

What if, instead of traditional schools, children learned by participating in a virtual reality simulation, one that allowed them to experience "life" from birth to death -- multiple times?

What if one player, on his final play, could change the world forever...?"




A few brief, quick thing things to note: there's a few grammar errors. I can overlook that, personally.

What's more problematic is that the sentence structure can sometimes be jarring. A sentence out of place can completely disrupt the flow of reading.


The final thing: the pace dragged. HARD. There is very little drama or suspense. This book is carried by it's interesting premise and the back story of The Game itself.



The Setting:


The novel alternates between the real world and the game world. The game world is a mirror of the real one, only controlled by a supercomputer-run AI named Sylvia. Sylvia is essentially the "god" of this world -- in both the literal and figurative sense.





In the real world, The Game is used to create "contributing members of society" by having adolescents live through a life ( or multiple lives ), and making mistakes in that controlled simulation. The Game has become a replacement for all reality television shows and drama on TV, with the "players" being those under the age of eighteen.


The Game garners so much attention that players are "sponsored" by various companies and wealthy individuals, which are called Patrons ( ...this sounds familiar. )


As a player plays "The Game", they earn credits, which they can either save until turning eighteen ( which are then turned into real world currency ) or use the credits to buy another play-through in the game. The cost to play through again increases as you get older, but in addition to that, you can purchase upgrades, skills, and "scenario's" for yourself -- to help direct your life.


How many credits you get is based off of a lot of vague factors, but the two big ones that are mentioned in the book are: The number of viewers watching that player at any given moment, and the "ripples" that player leaves in the world when they die.

"...One thing is certain though, the final rank of a player is weighed heavily by two things. One factor is how they affect those that they leave behind on Earth. If a child dies fifteen days after it’s born, but its death inspires people to get active and help others, by forming a charity or even just volunteering for instance, then the player who was that child ranks much better than a player whose avatar lives 80 years and contributes nothing to society. The second factor is based on how many [Real World] viewers a player has during the entire duration of their play."

Schott, Terry (2013-12-24). The Game (The Game is Life Book 1) (p. 260). Terry Schott. Kindle Edition.


Again, all interesting stuff, on a surface level. I mean, you can basically define your entire life to be the most awesome, amazing thing ever, if you have the "credits" to it. But luck plays a factor into everything, as usual. And the whims of Sylvia ( though she tends to not interfere with the players too much ).



The Characters:


The book is told from multiple perspectives, and even in multiple different formats -- we jump from third person past tense in one chapter, to first person past tense in another chapter. I will say that the author did manage to pull that off reasonably well, despite it not being something I enjoy in novels.


The real problem that came with that was the characterization.



The male lead ---

( Zack in the real world / Trew in the game ) didn't have a bad personality, wasn't wish-washy or whiny, and wasn't TSTL -- but he didn't stand out, either. And that can be JUST as bad. In fact, he was rather bland, even when he was actively perusing his goals. I felt like switching to so many different narratives didn't help this, and only exacerbated the problem ( or tried to cover it up, depending on perspective. )


The main heroine ---

( Alexandra / Danielle ) was similar. She didn't stand out in any form or fashion. She wasn't annoying, bothersome, or TSTL -- she was just bland.


Most of the supporting characters ran from being interesting-but-not-enough-page-time to flat.


The main "villain" of the series gets a chapter, though, which I found interesting. He was a nice, refreshing change of pace -- nothing quite like a "Hmm. Who do I feel like killing today?" to change the mood.


Which brings us to the next point.





There is none. I mean, lots of stuff happens, but at the same time, not...really. 40% in and the entire thing was still a lot of build up. There's talk of plans, deals, secrets, but nothing really happens until way further in.


I wasn't expecting epic laser battles, honorable duels, or space dragons. But a space dragon could've really helped bring some action or drama into the book.


The only drama that happens, happens at the 80% mark ( Page 226 of 283 ) and at the very end of the book.

Which ends in a cliffhanger.


(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻



Personal Complaints:


Like most science fiction novels, this one falls into those holes I mentioned before, primarily:




The technology that makes "The Game" possible is a complex use of brain-scans and sophisticated equipment. Where is all the medical possibilities for this? It's never mentioned, at all.


In addition to this, in the world of "The Game" itself, time goes by more rapidly -- you experience time the same within "The Game" as you do in the Real World: a day in the real world is equivalent to a year in the game.

Where in the hell is THAT used outside of The Game?



One thing I felt was accurate: Sylvia, the supercomputer AI, could stop hack attempts out-right. That? I completely believe. AI is a dangerous, powerful thing -- that kind of AI would be even more so.


But the technology itself?


People around the world would kill for that kind of technology, never mind companies who would spend billions to mimic the technology, but nowhere else is it ever mentioned.

Corporate espionage would be at an all time high. Billions upon billions of dollars would be poured into getting that technology out to the world.


On top of this, there are those one-percenters that would invest THAT much money to be able to go into "The Game" over and over, despite being over the 18 age limit. I just can't buy that the technology would NEVER be used anywhere else, at least even partially, or that other companies / people aren't pushing for something similar.



Overall, the book was interesting, but those pitfalls that plague the science fiction genre ( characterization, technology ) didn't help. Great idea, shaky execution.


Rating: 2.5 / 5
Recommend: For people who like interesting world building, "game" based novels, and don't go in expecting action ( or too much drama ).

Reading progress update: I've read 40%.

The Game - Terry Schott

Running into grammar errors, coupled with the weird sentence structure problems from early on.

I end up stopping and coming back intermittently.

Also, there is a ton of build up -- that's essentially all that's happened thus far. The world building started out as interesting, but ever so slowly, I'm starting to lose interest.

Reading progress update: I've read 4%.

The Game - Terry Schott

Started this not too long ago. The premise of the book sounded interesting ( anything gaming related in novel format, I'll tend to at least try ), but a few things keep slowing me down.


First and foremost: flipping from inside one character's head, to a different one, in a single paragraph makes me re-read the entire paragraph, just to make sure I'm not mistaking one character for another.

It's still early in the book, so this might not matter later on, but right now the voices of the two in question aren't different enough to stand out when flipping "perspectives" ( despite third person past tense format. )


The only other complaint I have thus far is that some of the sentence structure isn't wrong, grammar wise, but it doesn't flow -- it's almost jarring, if that makes sense.


Kushiel's Dart

Kushiel's Dart - Jacqueline Carey

I read Kushiel's Dart back when I was in junior high and, at the time, thought very highly of it.

Like with most re-read books, especially after such a long period of time, my tastes have changed ( or I'm my critical of books now. I'm not sure which applies here.)

Start off by saying that, in the beginning, I greatly enjoyed the prose of the story. It had that descriptive storytelling that let me vividly imagine every road, every person, every detail -- which also, in turn, was part of the problem.

The book is over 900 pages long, at least in physical copy, with a little over 95 chapters.

Suffice it to say, after 400 pages, I no longer wanted that vivid imagery of every facet of every object and person. In some places, this prose absolutely shined; in other places, it dragged the story down to a crawl.


Amazon Summary:

Born with a scarlet mote in her left eye, Phédre nó Delaunay is sold into indentured servitude as a child. When her bond is purchased by an enigmatic nobleman, she is trained in history, theology, politics, foreign languages, the arts of pleasure. And above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Exquisite courtesan, talented spy... and unlikely heroine. But when Phédre stumbles upon a plot that threatens her homeland, Terre d'Ange, she has no choice.

Betrayed into captivity in the barbarous northland of Skaldia and accompanied only by a disdainful young warrior-priest, Phédre makes a harrowing escape and an even more harrowing journey to return to her people and deliver a warning of the impending invasion. And that proves only the first step in a quest that will take her to the edge of despair and beyond.

Phédre nó Delaunay is the woman who holds the keys to her realm's deadly secrets, and whose courage will decide the very future of her world.


I will start off by saying: I did not like Phedre. I felt she was naive, despite her experiences and upbringing, and was constantly REACTING to everything that was happening at every point in the book.

She's praised early on by one of the more intelligent men in the country, but doesn't ever seem to really display that intelligence on her own -- if anything, she's carried by her predecessor's ( her "owner" ) wealth and abilities, up to the very end.

I did not like most of the side characters, either: some were flat, introduced only to make Phedre seem more intelligent, or to be ... filler, I suppose? That sounds strange, especially in a book, but there were a lot of characters you could have removed and nothing would have changed all that much. I think part of the point there was to emphasize how "desirable" Phedre was to people in power ( they were always people in power ).

There was something of a love triangle, and the main love interest was also a very cliche: dark, broody, with a troubled past.

The world building was interesting, but I found a lot of the concepts hard for me to really believe in. A country built on free love, choice, beauty, but having a terrifyingly strong military? I didn't mind, at first, until it seemed EVERYTHING was about the "beauty" and "Free love" aspect.

I liked the political maneuvering in this book, the betrayals, the backstabbing, the cloak and dagger - but it honestly felt a bit watered down. Like it was missing something.

But, A single character made this book go from one star to three.

Melisande Shahrizai ( a name which bears a striking resemblance to Melisandre from Game of Thrones )

Melisande Shahrizai is one of the most beautiful women in a country that covets and respects beauty - but that's not why she saved this book.

She's a badass woman on a whole different level of badassery. You have your badass women who go into battle and come out looking like a war hero. You have your badass women who go from frail flowers and bloom into blood-soaked thorns.

And then there's Melisande. She's actually not a battle-badass woman, but instead, is the "Man behind the Man" trope personified. Except, well, as a woman.

She's ruthless, brutal, and cunning. She uses her wealth, beauty, and power to basically move the world as she desires, with the end-game goal of becoming queen. She manipulates generals, kings, princes, soldiers - everyone, basically.

She incites countries to go to war with each other, has a vast network of spies, and rules multiple factions from the shadows, despite these factions not even LIKING each other.

She comes within touching distance of dethroning the current rulers of the land, only to be stopped at the very last minute by Phedre.

Overall? I probably wouldn't recommend the series to anyone, since the later books are, honestly, the first book repeated, but with different variables.

All You Need Is Kill

All You Need Is Kill - Hiroshi Sakurazaka

I started reading All You Need Is Kill after a few friends recommended it to me. The only thing I knew about it was that a soldier dies and must live the previous two days over and over again.


I was extremely, pleasantly, surprised at the direction this book took. At just around two hundred pages long, I finished it in one sitting.




Summary: Aliens, known as Mimics, invade the world. The story revolves around [Keiji Kiriya] -- a raw, green recruit who is given a suit of battle armor, called a "Jacket", and is ordered out onto the battlefield.

Keiji Kiriya dies on the first day of fighting. The only problem is: he doesn't stay dead. At least, not in the normal sense.


He's reborn prior to the battle, gets sent BACK into the battlefield, and dies yet again. This cycle repeats itself a hundred-something odd times, but as he 'loops', he becomes aware that he CAN, in fact, change what happens each time he loops back in time.

Keiji becomes determined to change his fate of dying. During the cycle, and at different points during that cycle, he meets a legendary soldier, Rita Vrataski, whose nicknamed "Full Metal Bitch": a US Special Forces soldier whose supposedly a hardcore battle junky.


But like a true bad-ass woman, there's more to her than meets the eye. And it's not pink frilly dresses.


Rather than doing a lengthy review, I'll just hit a few high points that I really enjoyed.



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Music in Literature

I've been reading more urban fantasy than straight-normal-tolkien-era-fantasy. And more than science fiction too, actually. Which is a bit weird for me. I've haven't actually had time to update books and/or make reviews on them, but I'll get around to eventually.

However, through all these urban fantasy books I'm reading, one thing is really starting to stand out:

I keep seeing song references or a few lines of lyrics.



Realistically, music is a big part of nearly everyone's life. Some people are content with listening to music on a long commute, and that fills their daily need for music. Other people might not be able to exist without it, and constantly have an earbud in one ear.


Sometimes it's done well in literature - a character sings in the shower, for example, or gets caught doing the hip-finger-snap-move while walking down a hallway.
Sometimes, though, it just seems like an author is subtlety saying "LISTEN TO THIS WHILE YOU READ THIS SCENE. IT'LL MAKE MORE SENSE." --- if you call throwing a paragraph of lyrics at you subtle.

I've been trying to decide if it's just me that's distracted by this, or if it's more of a widespread thing.

What do you guys think?

At first I thought this movie was going to be something similar to the 2005 book by Stephen Baxter  -- then watched the trailer(s).

I realized that the movie is Transcendence, not Transcendent. And I had a weird moment of, "I wonder why they're starting in the middle of the series and not at the beginning?", so that really should have given it away.

Although after watching the two teasers, it's still science fiction, and still appeals to me. I figured I'd post it over here, since there's a few A.I / Robot enthusiasts ( ....you know who you are ).

And yes, that's Johnny Depp doing the voice overs.

Also interesting: Morgan Freeman does the voice over for the second trailer. Which I'll link here: