Thursday, May 26, 2016

BookLikes may have been sold

I originally posted this over at BookLikes, but I'll reblog it here in case BookLikes suddenly disappears. Which, considering that no one on the site has had any contact with BookLikes employees since maybe May 19th, is a very real concern.

In light of the stuff reported in my original post, I plan to try to recreate my BookLikes reading lists over at LibraryThing and maybe use a LibraryThing export to get my Goodreads shelves back to something resembling up-to-date. I'm not really a big fan of Goodreads, but I loved the social interaction over at Booklikes, and Goodreads is, as far as I know, the only other site capable of providing something similar. Crossing my fingers that BookLikes continues to exist and thrive.

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In case you aren't following the Bug Reports discussion, YouKneeK and I have come across some details that may indicate that Booklikes was sold.

YouKneeK found that Dawid Piaskowski stopped being Booklikes' "CEO and cofounder" in April 2016. I discovered that Joanna Grzelak-Piaskowska, Booklikes' other cofounder and owner, sold Booklikes in 2016 ("After selling Okazjum.pl to Bauer Media Group in 2015 and BookLikes in 2016, Joanna with her husband are already working on something new."). Considering the info about Dawid, I would guess that the sale happened sometime last month.

I've searched Google and several business and company info databases and have been unable to find anything about the new owner(s). Dawid Piaskowski is still listed as the owner of the site's domain name.

If anyone finds any other info, please let the rest of us know! At the moment, I'm most concerned about the owner's plans. If they intended to keep the site running, wouldn't they have introduced themselves? And, if they didn't intend to keep it running, what did they buy it for? All I can think that they might want is any data it has generated or collected. Which is a little worrisome.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fox's Bride (e-book) by A.E. Marling

Fox's Bride is self-published fantasy. It's 87,190 words long.

I couldn't think of enough read-likes and watch-alikes to make it worth including them as a separate list, but those who'd like another fantasy detective and who enjoyed the tomb raiding scenes might want to watch the movie Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.

Review:
 
Hiresha is visiting Oasis City, a place reminiscent of ancient Egypt, when she has the bad luck to be chosen as the Golden Scoundrel's next bride. True, the Golden Scoundrel is a god inhabiting the body of an incredibly adorable fennec fox, but no matter how adorable he is, Hiresha had always planned on one day marrying a human being. She refuses to agree to marry an animal, especially once she learns that the marriage is supposed to happen in the afterlife. She and the fox are scheduled to be entombed together in four days.

That just won't do, so Hiresha tries to escape with her maid and friend, Janny, and her bodyguard, Chandur. Unfortunately, the Golden Scoundrel disappears at around the same time. Chandur is accused of kidnapping her and stealing the fox and will be put to death in less than two days if Hiresha can't find both the true thief and the fox. And then she still has to figure out how to avoid her own scheduled death.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (e-novella) by Zen Cho

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo is self-published historical chick lit. It's short, only 25,040 words long.

Again, no read-alikes. Only one more review and I'm finally caught up!

Review:

This is set in London in 1920. All Jade Yeo (whose real name is Geok Huay) wants is a chance to be a little adventurous and bad for once. She gets her opportunity after writing a negative review of Sebastian Hardie's latest book – the first time they meet, Sebastian seems to be more intrigued by her than upset. Jade likes the idea of a bit of “no strings attached” sex with a handsome man like Sebastian. Unfortunately, life has a way of complicating things.

I'll start off by emphasizing that this is historical chick lit, not romance. Jade gets a happy ending, but if you read this expecting it to be a romance, certain aspects will be extremely off-putting. Heck, I knew the author had categorized it as chick lit, and I was still taken aback by certain details.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Robin Hood (non-Japanese animation, movie), via Netflix

Disney's Robin Hood combines adventure, humor, and romance.

I'm still plowing my way through my review backlog, so no watch-alikes or read-alikes.

Review:
 
In case the story isn't already familiar: Robin Hood and his friend Little John steal everything they possibly can, right out from under Prince John's nose, and give it to the poor (not that this seems to improve anyone's lives much). Robin's life is a risk-filled, care-free existence, but there's one person he can't get out of his head: his childhood sweetheart, Maid Marian. When he hears about an archery contest in which the winner will get a kiss from her, he can't help but want to take part, even though it's obviously a trap designed to capture him.

This was my first time watching this movie in years, maybe since I was a kid. I vaguely remembered having enjoyed it, although not as much as some of Disney's other movies, and I was curious to see whether a re-watch would highlight similarities between Robin Hood and Zootopia's Nick.

Keanu (live action movie) - at the movie theater

Keanu is a comedy.

Review:

Rell, a stoner who's just been dumped by his girlfriend, falls head over heels in love with a kitten he finds on his doorstep. What he doesn't know is that the kitten, Keanu, belonged to a gangster who was recently killed in a brutal shootout. After his apartment is broken into and Keanu is stolen, he decides he'll do anything to get his little buddy back and convinces his friend Clarence to help him. Unfortunately, “anything” involves infiltrating a gang and pretending like they, a couple of middle class nerds, are hardcore gangsters. Meanwhile, several other gangsters want Keanu back (everybody loves Keanu).

I wouldn't have realized this movie was coming out or even have considered seeing it if one of my cat-loving coworkers hadn't shown me the trailer. We both thought it looked like an April Fool's joke, but we also both thought Keanu, the kitten, was adorable. Since it costs less than $4 for a matinee ticket in my town, I decided to go see the movie with a friend (another cat-loving coworker) when it came out.

Jurassic Park (audiobook) by Michael Crichton, narrated by Scott Brick

Jurassic Park is a science fiction thriller.

Review:

My first exposure to Jurassic Park was the first movie. After seeing that a bunch of times, I read the book. I remember liking both the movie and the book about the same, but for different reasons – the movie had great action scenes and amazing on-screen dinos (the part of me that wanted to be a paleontologist when I grew up was thrilled), while the book had a lot more science-y details and a greater variety of dinos.

I spotted this during an Audible sale. I loved Scott Brick's narration in the excerpt, so I decided to take a trip down memory lane and find out how well the book held up. The answer is...not so well.

Texts from Jane Eyre: and Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters (audiobook) by Mallory Ortberg, narrated by Zach Villa, Amy Landon

Texts from Jane Eyre: and Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters is a humorous collection of texts various famous characters and people might have sent, if they had had the ability to text.

Review:

I had previously read a few of these online, and liked them. I wanted to read the book but, with my TBR, who knows when I'd ever have gotten around to getting a copy? When Audible had this on sale for a dollar, I was interested but hesitant. How well would it translate into audio form?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Alice in the Country of Diamonds: Bet On My Heart (book) story by Sana Shirakawa, concept by QuinRose, illustrations by Nana Fumitsuki

Alice in the Country of Diamonds: Bet On My Heart is a novel based on Japanese visual novel/otome game. I decided not to include any read-alikes.

Review:

In this book, Alice experiences a “move” and ends up in the Country of Diamonds. Although many of the people are familiar, no one seems to know who she is. The very first people she sees are Elliot and the twins, all of whom try to kill her. Even Blood is suspicious of her, and only starts to unbend a tiny bit after she saves the life of one of his Faceless employees. Alice gradually comes to the conclusion that the Country of Diamonds is Wonderland's past.

Alice settles into the Hatter Mansion as best she can, arranging books in the Hatter family library, attending Survey Meetings, and getting to know this unsettlingly different Blood. Diamonds Blood is a little rougher around the edges than the Blood Alice remembers being friends with in Hearts and Clover, less composed and secure in his position. Part of her wonders if it would have been better for her to stay in someone else's territory, but part of her kind of likes this version of Blood. Still, is it a good idea to get too close to him, or anyone in Diamonds for that matter, when she doesn't have a clue how long she'll get to stay before the next move?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Sensation (book) by Nick Mamatas

Sensation is science fiction, but set in the present.

I decided not to bother to include a separate read-alikes/watch-alikes list, because I could barely think of anything to list. A couple I'd suggest, however, are The Matrix (the robots are significantly more sinister than the spiders, but the result is similar) and A. Lee Martinez's Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain (more B movie sci-fi than literary sci-fi, but, like the spiders, Emperor Mollusk has a huge amount of influence and tends to ride around in a fake body).

Review:

It all starts with a wasps' nest in Raymond's mother's basement. The wasps are Hymenoepimescis sp., which usually reproduces by attacking the Plesiometa argyra spider and laying its eggs within the spider's abdomen. As the larvae feed off the spider, they change its behavior, compelling it to create a web that can allow them to finish their development. When the spider is done with its work, the larvae kill it. (The spider and wasp species are real – nature is freaky and horrifying.)

Hymenoepimescis sp. doesn't usually build a nest or use humans as its hosts, but in this case it was affected by the unusually high radon levels in Raymond's mother's basement. Julia, Raymond's wife, is attacked by one of these wasps and unknowingly has its eggs injected into her. Over the course of the next few months, the larvae gradually affect her behavior in various ways, until one day she decides to leave Raymond. From that point on, she proceeds to become famous, carrying out an assassination and inspiring a nameless political movement which has no apparent goal. What neither she nor Raymond realizes is that they are both pawns in an ancient war between Hymenoepimescis sp. and Plesiometa argyra.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Dragonsinger (book) by Anne McCaffrey

Dragonsinger is technically sci-fi, but it reads like a fantasy school story.

Review:

This book picks up right were Dragonsong left off. Menolly arrives at Harper Hall on the back of a bronze dragon, with the Masterharper himself as her traveling companion. The whole thing is more than she could have ever dreamed, but then comes the hard part: making a place for herself at Harper Hall. The Masterharper said that girls could be harpers, but part of her still doubts him and worries that she's only getting a warm welcome because of her fire lizards.

This was another nostalgia reread. Of all the Pern books, this is the one I've reread the most, and not just because I adore Elizabeth Malczynski Littman's cover art. I love fantasy school stories, and that's basically what Dragonsinger is (although the series is technically sci-fi, if you handed this particular book to someone unfamiliar with the series as a whole, they would almost certainly classify it as fantasy). There are no dangerous villains or races against time, just Menolly being tested and then taught by various Masters, making friends and dealing with bullies, and trying to figure out where she fits in.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Out (book) by Natsuo Kirino, translated by Stephen Snyder

Out is a Japanese thriller.

I've opted not to include any read-alikes, but my review does include a few spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Review:

Warning: This book includes on-page instances of rape, torture, murder, and corpse dismemberment. On the plus side, there is a cat, and it is neither hurt (at least not that I remember) nor killed. I spent the whole book worrying that something was going to happen to that cat.

Anyway, Out tells the story of four women who work the night shift at a boxed-lunch factory in Tokyo. Yayoi is the mother of two small children. Her husband goes out drinking and gambling every night and has started physically abusing her. Kuniko hides her lack of self-confidence under expensive makeup and clothes she can't afford. She's so buried in loans that she struggles just to pay the interest. Yoshie is a widow, mother, and caretaker for her elderly mother-in-law. She works at the factory seven nights a week and, even so, only barely makes enough to support herself, her mother-in-law, and her increasingly rebellious and distant teenage daughter. Masako is the most mysterious of them all. She used to have a job at a company somewhere, and she seems too cool and composed to be working the night shift at the factory.

While these four women aren't exactly friends, they make a good team at the factory. That's why, when Yayoi suddenly snaps and kills her husband, the first person she can think of to turn to is Masako. Masako agrees to take care of everything and enlists Yoshie's help. Due to a stroke of enormously bad luck, Kuniko also gets involved. With all these people in on the secret, will they really be able to avoid being found out by the police? Then there's the question they didn't consider, didn't even know they had to consider: will they be able to evade Satake, the man to whom Yayoi's husband owed money?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Flower in a Storm (manga, vol. 2) by Shigeyoshi Takagi, translated by HC Language Solutions, Inc.

Flower in a Storm is a 2-volume romantic comedy series, although this volume has a more serious tone. It's published by VIZ.

Warning: this review includes spoilers.

Review:

Riko acts like she doesn't care when Ran comes back from a trip with Rinko, the fiancee his dad picked out for him, in tow. However, she can't bring herself to just stand back when Rinko admits she wants to marry Ran for his money. Then Riko and Ran celebrate Christmas together at one of Ran's swanky parties. As Riko sees Ran schmoozing with all the rich people, she begins to doubt that their relationship will last. Her fears appear to be coming to pass when Ran begins acting distantly towards her during a cruise, but Riko finds the courage to fight for Ran and their relationship when he's kidnapped by some terrorists.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

His Favorite (manga, vol. 6) by Suzuki Tanaka, translation by Ivana Bloom

His Favorite is a m/m romantic comedy. It's published by SuBLime.

I opted not to include any read-alikes in this post. Check out one of my past posts for this series if you'd like some.

This review includes slight spoilers.

Review:

In the first chapter, Sato tells Yoshida he wants Valentine's Day chocolate from him. He also enacts a plan to keep all the girls at school from giving him chocolate. Then Sato, Yoshida, and Yoshida's friends investigate the creepy rumors that have been going around the school, much to poor, easily frightened, ghost-fearing Yoshida's dismay. Finally, Sato, Yoshida, and friends “vacation” at Tsuyako's tropical island, leaving Yoshida with some intense memories.

The Bletchley Circle (live action TV series), via Netflix

The Bletchley Circle is a British historical mystery series set in the early 1950s.

I opted not to include any watch-alikes or read-alikes for this, although I should probably mention that David Leavitt's The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer was part of the reason why I was so excited to watch this. The Bletchley Park women interested me.

Review:

In Series 1, Susan, a former codebreaker at Bletchley Park, has mostly settled into a comfortable life as a mother and a wife. However, part of her can't help but look for patterns everywhere, and she's convinced she's found one in a series of murders. The problem is convincing the police that the pattern she sees exists, especially since her first tip turns out to be wrong. She enlists the help of Millie, Lucy, and Jean, other former Bletchley Park codebreakers.

Series 2 includes two different mysteries. In the first, Alice, a former colleague of Jean's at Bletchley, has confessed to a murder that Jean is convinced she didn't commit. Jean enlists Lucy and Millie's help in proving her innocence. Susan occasionally joins in, but the events that brought their previous investigation to a close frightened her very badly. She doesn't want to risk that harm might come to her, her children, or her husband. In the second mystery, Alice suspects that Millie has been kidnapped, possibly due to her involvement in the post-war black market.

The Goblin Emperor (e-book) by Katherine Addison

The Goblin Emperor is a fantasy novel set in an industrial steampunk world.

Review:

Maia is the unloved half-goblin son of the elven emperor, Varenechibel IV. He has spent his whole life essentially exiled to a remote manor, with only a couple servants and Setheris, his abusive drunkard of a cousin, for company. Then a courier arrives with a shocking announcement: the emperor and all his other heirs were killed in an airship explosion, with the result that Maia is now the new emperor.

Maia's education and training is spotty at best. His knowledge of court etiquette is good, for example, but polite conversation is difficult for him, because Setheris tended to punish him if he spoke too much. He knows too little about the court and is painfully aware of his shortcomings as an emperor. To make matters worse, the airship accident that killed Maia's father and brothers might not have been an accident after all.
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