This month had a couple big disappointments. Chief was The Secrets of Jin Shei. It was a, book whose main characters were all women, sharing a secret circle and a promise of friendship and support to one another. This is a sort of book I have been WAITING for. and it disappointed me. I suspect part of the problem was just my hopes for it outweighing what the book could have delivered, but some of the characters were barely characterized, some of the plot choices made no sense, and worst of all, the author repeatedly chose not to show us big important plot moments, but to have characters talk about those plot moments over tea later. Boo, I say.
The second big disappointment was the second Bob Moore book. The first was a fantastic if a little over-described superhero tale about a regular old PI working in a world full of supers. I thought it painted a great world and some interesting characters. But this one... well, it fell short. Partly because... no, MOSTLY because by the end I was left with a feeling of "so what?" It felt like the events of the plot had no real conclusion, no purpose. I felt like I'd wasted my time. Disappointing. Not sure if I'll try the next book in the series. Maybe once I've got some distance on the disappointment.
Finally, I read Every Day for book club. I've seen a lot of people whose opinions I generally trust rave about this one, but I found it sort of... meh? The concept - that the main character wakes up every day in a different body, so0rt of like Sliders with a hard deadline and no established sense of self for the main character. But the main plot revolved around the main character trying to maintain a relationship with a young woman, and he does so in often very creepy ways that I think were meant to be sweet. I got actually uncomfortable reading this one.
Not much to say on the Pirate King and The Beltway Boys. Pirate King is book 11 in a series, but I felt like most of it made sense without the first 10 and what didn't... well, I'm not sure I want to know how 70-year-old Sherlock Holmes came to be spending so much time with a young lady. Fun book though. May read more of the series later. And Beltway Boys? A book about the Nats' 2012 season. Engaging if you like the Nats and sports stats, decently well written, but in the end one good season wasn't really enough to have a general-audiences book on.
Continued my Dark Tower reread with Wizard and Glass, which was actually a little better than I remembered. This book is always saved for me by them presence of Cuthbert and Alain, whose characters I love despite their limited appearance in the series. Supplemented it with a reread of the Pyrdain books, starting with The Book of Three, which was decent but clunkier than I remember. It is YA, so that's part of it, and I do have to admit to really liking the characters. It's interesting though, to be reading these two fantasy juggernauts at the same time, and so close on the rereads of two others (I'm less than two years out of rereads of both Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings). Seeing the ways they feed off one another and the ways they diverge is fascinating.
Last book this month was a book club selection, Watership Down, which also happens to be one of my very favorite books. It may be about bunnies, but it's also about adventure, and friendship, and lonliness, and loyalty, and politics, and the power of stories, and the power of having something to protect, and... so much there. SO much. A fantastic book and everyone should read it.
This was a weird month for manga. I didn't read two books in the same series at any point in April, so I'm going to do this in list format. Not linking to GR since I don't tend to write much on Manga reviews.
- Angelic Layer Omnibus 2 - Angelic Layer is by its nature a kind of kidsy, girly story, and I was caught off guard by how much I likied the first part since girly is often not a terribly big selling point for me. But the main character is just so earnest and intense and dedicated and upbeat that I couldn't help but cheer for her and it made this ending very satisfying. :)
Exorcist 9 - It pleased me that Yukio and Rin are finally starting to open up to one another, but with some of the behind the scenes developments in the story, I suspect it may be too little too late. We shall see
-Fairy Tail 24 - Can I just say how happy I was to see Cana taking center stage for once? She's been sort of middle stage since the beginning and we know next to nothing about her, so this arc should prove to satisfy my curiosity on that score.
-Toriko 5 - Left the series here. I had been listlessly following along because it wasn't a BAD series, it just wasn't grabbing me. I figured five books was enough. I may go back to this later - there were flashes, especially in this volume, of something I could really love. But for now, just too much else to sink my... eyes? .. into.
-The Color of Heaven - Goodness, this series. I love this series. The Color of Heaven continues and completes Ehwa's journey to understanding herself, her world, her body and the nature of coming to love another. I found the ending to be poignant and sweet.
Saika 1 - I loved the first Durarara arc, but this one... vol. 1 blew me away, and I am super excited to continue reading. Things seem more extreme and faster paced. I guess it hepls that they're not introducing characters at this point really and can get right into the action, but still...
-Nabari No Ou 1 - Stopped reading Toriko and replaced it with this. Good move so far. There's nothing new here - ninjas with magic powers, a kid with a secret power hidden in him, spunky chick, steadfast friend, yadda yadda yadda. But just as unique ideas can make terrible books, so can worn out ideas make something that can give you a lot of enjoyment. I found the characters to be a lot of fun despite their familiarity of trope.
-Barbara - This is a weird one. I don't think this is one of Tezuka's better books, or even one of my favorites of his, but I think its interesting to see him trying out more adult themes and story directions. The idea of what a muse is and what it can do to an artist is long-trod ground, but the wild and unkempt way in which Barbara interacts with the worlds of those she chose really seemed to capture the idea better than a lot of others I've read.
The saddest book this month was Truth - it's both a sad book in its own right and its author died this month, which was what compelled me to do a reread of the book. I know a lot of people who hated this book for being too "heavy handed" (which I utterly disagree with) or because they felt the art didn't fit the story (still disagree but I can definitely concede that it's a matter of taste). I've always found it to be a strong central tale that adds a lot of shade and nuance to Isaiah that you won't see in his other appearances, where we see only what he became. This is use of continuity at its strongest.
My sister loaned me the first Oz comic from Marvel, and my GOODNESS the art is beautiful. I was never a big fan of the first book and I think the textual side of it seems to be a pretty good adaptation, but the main story was told in the art, the style, the expression, the colors. I loved it and will be reading on in the series.
Another revelation this month was City in the Desert, an independent book about a couple of monster hunters working out of a city that's set in a desert (obvs.) It's not a kiddie tale, and it does run through a range of themes about the importance of power, where it comes from, how it is weilded and why it's given to who it's given to in the first place (that is, largely power resides with the person who seems to have it). The art was an unusual style but I thought it fit the book really really well.
Finally, I got the first Gambit trade of the new series, Just as much fun as I remembered from the individual issues, with the story being part Mission Impossible, part James Bond. A few lapses of weak writing kept it from being a truly excellent book for the fun factor, but I definitely continue to enjoy it. :)