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Livingstone by Tomohiro Maekawa | Series blabber

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Livingstone by Tomohiro Maekawa
Manga, 4 volumes
Urban fantasy
Spoiler-free blabber

This series was a breath of fresh air.

I read this manga series as part of Borrowathon and MangaReadathon (which is still ongoing). My friend lent it to me, meaning there was about a 50-50 chance I’d hate it or love it. Our tastes usually really overlap or do not at all. Luckily, this one was a winner.

This series takes place in a world where at the beginning of the 20th century, a doctor conducted some unethical experiments and found that when one dies under circumstances not ordained by fate, that their body weight changes by 30g at the moment of death, the weight of a human soul stone.

The manga follows two men whose job it is to make sure these soul stones stay on their destined paths, for when the body the stone is in veers off course, it could threaten or even shatter the stone. This means the manga deals with some heavy topics at times – suicide, murder included.

So, the premise alone was really neat. It kinda sounds like reincarnation, but not really. A soul stone is born and its path will lead it through the use of many human bodies. Once its current body dies according to plan, it moves onto the next until the stone itself becomes old enough to die. Of course of if the person its in currently commits a murder or a suicide, that soul stone’s vitality goes down, and if the trauma becomes too much, then the stone is shattered, permanently thrown off its course.

The two main characters – Sakarai and Amano, go around looking for stains, places where souls have veered off course, because locations where something went wrong once will lead to more souls getting sucked in and going off course as well. When they find a soul stone that has altered its path but is still able to be saved, they either help the human its in… or if there’s no hope left for the person but there is for the soul, they kill the human and help the soul along to its next destination.

Seriously, the concept of this series is amazing, I loved it!

Both Sakari and Amano are pretty interesting characters, though I felt that Amano ended up much more fleshed out than Sakarai did. That’s really the one flaw I found with this series – aside from the two main characters, pretty much all the side characters were flat. Some more than others for sure, but none of them really did anything for me.

This series played off a few myths about souls and did so really well. Like, the idea that one suffers jetlag when flying because a plane will take your body but your soul can’t keep up, so you get tired waiting for it to return fully to you. So that’s a good thing to think about with me having two upcoming plane trips. Thanks Livingstone, I’ll be sure to ductape my soul in.

I also feel that this series handled sensitive topics well – suicide was not glorified and it was dealt with in a sympathetic manner, the idea of self-identity was discussed thoroughly – are you your body or your soul? Where do your memories lie? What makes you you?

For a four volume long series, this got quite in depth about philosophy related to the questions above. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was quick, well drawn, easy to follow and entertaining – everything you need in a manga. I definitely recommend this one if you’re looking for something new to pick up.

4/5 stars

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Posted by on 06/20/2018 in Books, Review

 

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Manga Readathon TBR

Readathons

Hello! I’ve decided to participate in the Manga Readathon! It starts today and runs through June 23rd. Here is where you can find the full details on it!

I will be participating mostly through twitter, where I’ve also posted a tbr pic. These are the manga I plan on reading:

The link I gave above lists seven challenges, of which I think my selection will fulfill most of them.

1. Read a manga that’s been on your TBR the longest

  • s-CRY-ed v1 by Yosuke Kuroda

2. Catch-up reading a series

  • Livingstone v4 by Maekawa Kataoka

3. Read your shortest series

  • Orange v2 and Future by Ichigo Takano

4. Read a new manga

  • Demon Diary v4+ by Lee Yun Hee

5. Re-Read a manga

  • Demon Diary v1-3 by Lee Yun Hee

6. Read a manga out of your comfort zone

  • Just Around the Corner by Toko Kawai

7. Read a recommended manga

  • Seraph of the End v1-2 by Takaya Kagami

Going through and picking out manga for this made me realize just how many I own that are unread and how many I’ve been itching to reread. Perhaps 2018 will be the year of manga for me. If you’re participating in this readathon, let me know! Happy reading!

 
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Posted by on 06/17/2018 in Books, Readathon, TBR

 

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Coffee time: On the impact of a good first sentence

Coffee Time

Hello! Today’s coffee time post is about how much a first sentence can suck you into a book.

First sentences aren’t the end all be all of how much I’m going to like a book. It can be absolutely plain and I’ll still end up giving a book five stars. But man, when a book has a good first line, I know the rest of it is going to be just as good. There is only one book in the examples I’m going to give where I loved the first line and ended up not caring for the book.

But I will tell you one thing: whether or not I liked the book, if a first sentence is good, I tend to remember it. It sticks with me.

What qualifies as ‘good’?

To me, the number one indicator of a good first line is frisson. The definition of frisson is ‘a sudden strong feeling of excitement, fear, or thrill’. So, essentially the chill or that shiver you get when you read a sentence. The one that makes you catch your breath or go ‘ooooh’. I’m sure as avid readers you’ve all come across something in your books that have caused you to experience frisson.

And the best part is, frisson is obviously completely subjective, so the sentences I’m going to list caused it for me, but they might not do so for you, whether it be lack of context or the words just not doin’ it for you. Either way, I hope you find the examples I give at least intriguing if not frisson…ing.

‘Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.’

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)This first one is obviously from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and when I first read the book back in 4th grade, honestly this sentence was just a sentence. But now when I go back to reread the series for the umpteenth time, this sentence really hits me. Maybe it’s because now I know the significance of it. Maybe it’s because I know what adventures are to come. Maybe it’s because it sends me back to being nine years old and reading this for the first time.

Regardless of the actual reason, every time I’ve ever read Harry Potter, which is probably in the twenties at this point honestly, this sentence gets me so pumped for it. Actually, I started writing this, copied down that sentence above, and it made me feel so nostalgic that I’m now playing the first movie in the background as I write. Yer a wizard, Harry.

If there’s no frisson involved, a good first sentence should basically catch the reader off guard, make them laugh, or stick them right in the middle of something action-y or spooky. It should be something that lets the reader know right away that something is happening.

‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’

1984

The above sentence is from 1984, and it lets the reader know that the book is going to be just a bit… off. Just a bit disconcerting. It’s going to leave them with an uncertain and uncomfortable feeling. Depending on your country of origin and your current political situation, it may even speak to you in a way that is a bit too close to home.

I first read 1984 back in 2006 when I was sixteen and I feel like I need to reread it to fully appreciate it. At the time, it wasn’t my favorite. I feel that a reread now that would have me enjoying.. well, ‘enjoying’ the book a lot more. I feel like it’d be hard to read it and not think ‘oh great, I’ve found the cheeto’s manifesto’.

‘I’m pretty much fucked.’

The MartianThis cheerful and optimistic line is the first in The Martian by Andy Weir. Going into this, I had heard it was a funny sci-fi, but I didn’t really grasp the extend of how ridiculous it was going to be until I actually cracked it open and read that first line. Well, listened. Audiobook. 😛

The remaining two examples both come from some of my all-time favorite books. Both, upon first reading them, gave me frisson. Both, when finishing the book and going back to look at the first sentence, had even more significance. Both of the following books I consider to be masterpieces.

‘The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.’

A Monster CallsThis one is technically two sentences so it might(?) be cheating? But you need both to get the impact. This line is from A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. If you haven’t read this, I very much recommend it. This book has stayed with me since I first read it and I’m about due for a reread I think. This first line sets the tone of the book. The tone of inevitability, the tone of ‘this is how it is’. The theme lasts throughout the book and makes it one of the best I’ve ever read.

‘A Promise. This is the truth. You will know it because it hurts.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant (Baru Cormorant #1)This is my favorite opening line. This is the one where I read it, went ‘someone’s trying to be dramatic’, read the book… had my heart destroyed, went back and reread this line and went ‘fuuuuuuck‘. This line seems innocent enough at first, but after the events of the book, it holds so much more significance. It rips your heart out all over again, knowing this was said and then the events of the book followed. I loved this book, and its opening line makes it resonate so much more.

The line is from The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson, which was one of my favorite books last year and will likely be a favorite for a long while. The second one comes out this October and already I’ve seen people getting advanced reader copies of it. I am so envious. You bet your butt I’m getting it on the day it comes out.


So, which books have you read where the first line really struck you? I know there are more. Honestly I had above five more titles I wanted to mention, but I figured this post shouldn’t get too long. If you loved the first sentence, did you also love the book? Have you ever read a first sentence and just said ‘nope’?

Happy reading!

 
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Posted by on 06/16/2018 in Books, Coffee Time

 

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Top 5 father figures

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https://i.imgur.com/XS0XVS1.gifHappy Hump Day!

Today’s topic is fathers or father figures. (By the way, Father’s Day is this coming Sunday, for you American peeps. Go take your dad to dinner or something). For this topic, I’m breaking away from books a little bit.

If you’d like to participate in T5W, you can do so here.


5. Maes Hughes from Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

He’s just such a wholesome guy, and funny to boot.

4. Butler from Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, #1)

No gif for this one. Butler essentially acts as Artemis’s father and role model and protector throughout the series. He’s such a stand up guy.

3. Burrich from Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy, #1)

Not from Assassin’s Apprentic specifically, but Hobb’s entire Realm of the Elderlings series. Burrich is definitely a gruff guy and has annoyed me more than once with how stubborn he is, but he’s got a big heart.

2. Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender

I feel like Iroh is the Golden Standard when it comes to positive male role models. Everyone should be like Iroh.

1. Bobby from Supernatural

Again, a good male role model (but maybe more gruff and not as golden standardy as Iroh). He’s funnier, though, so he’s my fave.


And that’s it! Happy reading!

 
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Posted by on 06/13/2018 in Books, Top 5 Wednesday

 

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A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas | Blabber

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1)A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas
A Court of Thorns and Roses, Book 3.1
229 pages
YA/basically new adult fantasy
Read May 17th – June 3rd

Spoilery Blabber

This book suffers from the ‘second book syndrome’ that the actual second book manages to avoid. I suppose it’s not surprising that this super common lull in a series would catch up with this one eventually. On one hand, this is a novella, so it’s unfair to judge it how I would a book. On the other hand, I’ve read other of Maas’s novellas set in already established series and they are way, way, way better than this one.

I’m not saying this was a bad book. It just wasn’t… good. Nothing happened. I felt like I was reading a fanfiction. You know, the ones where the fanfiction author pulls the characters out of the main story arc, sticks them in some unspecified point in the cannon plot and goes, ‘now how about they celebrate a holiday together’. Which is exactly what this book was, except we knew the plot took place after the ending of the third book.

Going into this, I had heard mixed things. Those still solidly on the Feyre/Rhys express seem to love this book. Me, along with those who have been a bit disenchanted at this point, were a bit more let down. For me I think it stems with the fact that this series peaked in book two. Book three was okay, and this one is probably a bit lower down than that.

I feel like if there was a bit more plot then it would have been better, but come book four, the author could just go ‘the winter solstice was last month and Feyre told Rhys that she’s ready for kids’. Because that’s literally the only important plot point in the entire thing. Otherwise, you get to read about shopping and painting and more shopping and how much Amren like jewels. Oh, and a sex scene that uses the word ‘shattered’ to mean ‘orgasm’ for some reason. Multiple times within the same scene. Like why ‘shattered’, all I can picture is the two goin’ at it and then Thanos pops in and snaps his fingers. At least Maas didn’t use the word ‘sheathing’ this time.

My issues with how the sex scenes are written in this book  could beworth a whole different post, so I won’t get into it anymore here I don’t think.

So overall, this book was okay. It wasn’t bad – there wasn’t really anything I disliked about it (except ‘shattered’… shudder) but there wasn’t anything that really drew me in, either.

And I don’t have anything else to say about it because nothing else happened in it.

So here we are.

3/5 stars

 

 
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Posted by on 06/10/2018 in Books, Review

 

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Coffee time: On coming to terms with book borrowing betrayal

Coffee Time

A year or two or three ago, I wrote a post titled On Borrowing Books: A Harrowing Tale of Betrayal, where I told a story about some books, she-who-must-not-be-named, and the complete and utter devastating betrayal that she dealt me. I highly recommend you go read it if you haven’t already, especially if you intend on reading this post. Context is important.

Though if you really don’t want to, a short summary is that this… person… borrowed six of my books about a decade ago, gave back three in awful condition and claimed that I had never even lent her the remaining three, despite knowing the plot content of them. Highly suspect, no? Seriously go read the post, I get very uh… involved in the story.

So for some reason, these past ten years I never repurchased the three books that had been stolen from me. Was it ego? Was I holding out some hope that even though I likely wouldn’t know her to recognize her now, that one day she’d appear at my door with the books she’d taken? I don’t know. The thought of re-getting these books has been on the back burner of my mind every time I’d go through my book collection for the past ten years. Ten years this is been bugging me, that I never got these books back.

And for ten years I’ve been telling myself ‘I should get these again’, because hey, I now had 9 out of 12 volumes of a series, and without the remaining three, I’d never be able to reread it to completion. So guess who hasn’t read Death Note in almost ten years. Time’s up, it’s me.

But last week, I bit the bullet. I found the books, used, online, and purchased them. I think I spent thirteen dollars total for all three. And they arrived today:

I’m not sure what actually convinced me to buy them. It wasn’t that I was really in the mood to read Death Note (but now I likely will soon just because I can). Maybe it was the fact that it has been literally a decade and my mind was like ‘oh it’s been long enough’. No clue.

Anyway, you should all read Death Note, it’s really neat.

Have you ever lost books or had them borrowed or not returned? Did you re-buy them, or did you turn it into a generational feud like I did?

 
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Posted by on 06/09/2018 in Books, Coffee Time, Uncategorized

 

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Top 5 summer reads

Copy of Top 5 Wednesday Banner

https://i.imgur.com/XS0XVS1.gifHappy Hump Day! Today’s topic is summer reads! I thought about how I wanted to interpret this prompt because it’s pretty open ended, and I settled on top books I want to read this summer. As in, ones I wanna finish within the next three months.

If you’d like to participate in T5W, you can do so here.


5. Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik

Victory of Eagles (Temeraire, #5)This is the fifth book in the Temeraire series, and the highest that I’ve read to. I first read this back when I was high school and am currently rereading all of them. Finishing this one would mean that I am caught up and ready to move onto the remaining four books in the series.

 

 

 

 

 

4. The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks

The Blood Mirror (Lightbringer, #4)This one I’m currently reading, but it’s sitting on the back burner. I love this series and finishing this one this summer will have me prepped for the release of The Burning White next year (at least I think it’s going to be next year. Don’t leave me hangin’, Weeks!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski

House of LeavesI think I started this one in February. I feel like I have to finish it at this point. It’s a matter of ego now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud AtlasMy husband bought this for me for our first Christmas together as a couple, back in 2012 and I still haven’t read it. I’m such a bad wife. I even suggested it by name!

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

The Traitor Baru Cormorant (Baru Cormorant #1)This will be a reread for me. This was my favorite book last year and its sequel comes out in October. The reread of this one will take place likely in late August. I’M SO READY MAN. I’M SO READY.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And that’s it! Happy reading!

 
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Posted by on 06/06/2018 in Books, Top 5 Wednesday

 

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