Books

Off the Shelf: Library Wars: Love & War, issue #9

Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 9 (Library Wars: Love & War, #9)Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 9 by Kiiro Yumi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kasahara & Shibazaki are successful ensnaring the library creep & the Task Force turns its attention to the upcoming exams for the rising corporals. Kasahara, Tezuka & Shibazaki all prepare for the skills test: taking over the children’s activities for an hour. The prankster boys from issue #3 return to tell Kasahara their petition has lead to their favorite books being unbanned. Which leads readers into another controversy at the Weekly New World. An interview with a popular hot actor causes him to sue the magazine. The actor talks extensively about being raised by his grandfather, a barber. However, “barber” is one of the censored words on the MBC’s list, meaning that the mag has had to replace every instance in their story, upsetting their subject. The community rallies in support & demands the reinstatement of the word.

So I mentioned in my last review that I was curious to see how the Task Force’s mission would go down & this mission actually introduced some odd stuff about Kasahara’s femininity. Or more specifically, how she thinks she’s lacking in that department. Shibazaki helps get her all dolled up as bait for the creeper but her teammates reactions to her are kind of weird. They tease, but then apparently “forget” that she’s a girl when she’s in uniform. Which is kind of weird considering they’ve been giving her a hard time throughout the series about whether she can make it as a team member, being as she’s the only girl to get as far as she has. And then there are moments like Dojo’s comment that she must be a woman after all when she knows a little bit about the symbolism of the chamomile blossoms on their badges or her repeated mention of her small bust size. . . they just puzzle me more than anything.

I think this confusion occurs mainly because when it comes to Kasahara, there’s a lot of talk around the concept of femininity without any real concrete examples as to what it means to her. Readers know that K’s parents would rather she found a husband than a career & we’ve seen what Shibazaki’s motivations are to keeping up a traditionally feminine appearance. We just haven’t seen specifically what Kasahara wants. . . despite some textual examples like her enjoying stuffed animals or owning some stylish dresses for special occasions. I guess it’s just growing pains as she becomes more confidant?

In other plotlines, Tezuka’s awkwardness with the children & his frantic attempts to study up on how to play well with children were adorable. His friendship with Shibazaki does well to draw him out of his perfectionist shell & out of the shadow of expectations by his family. He pops in & out of the story but when he shows up, I’m always happy to see that he’s loosening up a little bit more. He might actually act like a real person instead of a robot one day!

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Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Gone Girl

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 instead of 4, mainly because I’m reading this after having seen the movie, so the novelty is not as fresh for me. Gone Girl is a clever deconstruction of a marriage and the romantic comedy tropes that relationship stories can fall into. She’s from New York; he’s from the Midwest! They met in the city & had a whirlwind courtship–what happens when life (money problems, family illness, marital boredom) catches up to them?! For this reader, Gone Girl is a harsh breath of cold air after having read so many articles lately about the death of the romantic comedy. (Why, why, why is this a topic?) Flynn makes this genre inversion work by granting Nick and Amy the odd cynical position readers nowadays find themselves in with the prevalence of information and news at our easy access–reflecting the attitude of ‘We’ve seen this, or even if we haven’t, we can’t be surprised by it because clearly we don’t have the excuse of not knowing anything anymore.’ This idea of jaded understanding plays a large role in both Amy & Nick’s outlook but Flynn keeps her story from falling into a ridiculous caricature by giving the couple the desire to find something new for themselves. Even if it means a little murder & manipulation. Though I had seen the movie, I enjoyed reading Amy & Nick’s detailed thoughts on their situation, which can’t be portrayed as well in film, and gave me new insight into their characters. The ragged atmosphere of North Carthage was also better conveyed in print, as both of them describe the slow failure of society around them. I would recommend the book to those who are interested, whether they have or haven’t seen the movie. But I will that say reading the specific ins & outs of how manipulation can bring out the worst in two people can sometimes be as tiresome as reading about the nuances of attraction between new lovers.

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Thoughts

Accumulating Digital Baggage

But don’t offer me a place out in cyberspace/Cuz where in the hell’s that at?

–Billy Bragg

 

I got a Google+ invite the other day from my best friend.  I have been curious about this so-called better social network, mainly because Neil Gaiman posted some frustrated thoughts on his experience with it.  Now that I’ve joined, I have this very tired, worn-out feeling that maybe I shouldn’t have either.

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Books, Thoughts

Book Dork: Confession & Penance

First off, I would like to go on record as saying I tried.  I had every intention of keeping to my no new books resolution.  Even when I accidentally purchased a book within a few months of making my promise.  But, my will is weak so here’s my confession–I’ve bought books.  Gasp!

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Thoughts

Trust Exercise

As I’m sure you know, dear Reader, sometimes the hardest thing about writing is allowing yourself to do it.  To give yourself space without judgment or self-editing or a critical eye.  Actually, let me give that statement some context.  It’s easy to write from emotion & think that the rawest sentences are insight or the most painful details are depth.

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