Wednesday, May 24, 2023

REVIEW: The Devotion of Suspect X (book) by Keigo Higashino, translated by Alexander O. Smith with Elye J. Alexander

The Devotion of Suspect X is a Japanese mystery novel, the first in Higashino's Detective Galileo series (at least in terms of English language releases). I bought my copy of this volume brand new.

Review:

Yasuko is a single mother who works in a lunch shop. She used to work at a hostess club but has since left that life behind - along with her abusive ex-husband, Togashi. Unfortunately, Togashi manages to track her down once again, and this time things escalate to the point that Yasuko strangles him to death in an effort to protect herself and Misato, her teen daughter. Yasuko is still grappling with what she's done when her next door neighbor, a math teacher named Ishigami, stops by and calmly offers to help.

Ishigami is a quiet and solitary man whose only interest in life is mathematics...and Yasuko. He had gotten into the habit of stopping by her workplace to buy lunch, just to see her. He has no illusions that she might ever feel the same about him. When he hears the commotion in her apartment, he immediately offers to help. He isn't shocked by what's happened - his only concern is the problem presented by Togashi's death, and Yasuko and Misato's safety. He'll do anything to help them, so he takes care of literally everything, disposing of Togashi's body and laying out exactly what Yasuko and Misato must do in order to deal the police's inevitable suspicion.

The one thing Ishigami doesn't take into account is that the police will involve Yukawa, a physicist who's the only person he's ever met whose intellect is a match for his own.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

REVIEW: Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi, Vol. 5 (book) by Mo Xiang Tong Xu, translated by Suika & Lianyin Pengie, illustrated by Marina Privalova

Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation is a fantasy danmei (Chinese m/m) series. This is the final volume. I bought my copy new.

Review:

Wei Wuxian is freaking out after the events that ended the previous volume and decides to go to Guanyin Temple with Wen Ning in order to put some space between himself and Lan Wangji. Unfortunately, Jin Ling shows up too, and he and Wei Wuxian end up captured, along with Lan Xichen. You would think the characters would be too busy trying not to die for romance to enter anyone's minds, but you would be wrong - everything somehow manages to happen simultaneously. Wei Wuxian demonstrates that he can flirt and fight at the same time.

The first 187 pages of this volume wrap up the main story, while the rest of the volume is composed of eight extra stories, most of which feature both Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji and show either their lives after the main story or scenes from when they were teenagers.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

REVIEW: Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi, Vol. 4 (book) by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, translated by Suika & Lianyin Pengie, illustrated by Marina Privalova

Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation is a fantasy danmei (Chinese m/m) series. I bought my copy of this volume new.

Review:

Here we have more flashbacks, this time to the period after the Sunshot Campaign. The Wen Clan has nearly been wiped out, and its remnants are being cruelly mistreated by the Jin Clan. Wei Wuxian, who has calmed down considerably since volume 3, is helping Wen Qing find her beloved little brother Wen Ning and ends up establishing a new home for the remnants of the Wen Clan at the Burial Mounds, the very place where Wen Chao once left him to die.

This volume completes the story of Wei Wuxian's downfall and then jumps back to the present. Wei Wuxian's identity has been revealed and he is believed to be responsible for a horde of fierce corpses. Pretty much everyone except Lan Wangji and some of the junior cultivators wants to kill him. However, some undeniable and shocking truths finally come to light.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

REVIEW: Nyankees (manga, vol. 2) by Atsushi Okada, translated by Caleb D. Cook

Nyankees is a comedy series. I bought this volume new.

Review:

Ryuusei finally meets the leader of the Goblin Cat Tails - and it turns out the intel was bad, the leader is a female and not a male calico. Oops. Next up, a lost pet cat joins Taiga's group for safety, at least until his owner can find him. In the meantime, there seems to be a new threat in town, an odd group composed of a Bengal-looking fighter, a Sphynx cat, and a long-haired cat who seems to exist in a perpetual cloud of catnip.

A lot of my issues with the first volume also apply to this volume, although this time around I didn't even particularly like the artwork - too many scenes of the cats battling in non-catlike poses.

I really wasn't a fan of the humor in the first half of this volume, which hinged on the supposed hilarity of Sango, a huge female calico, being depicted as muscle-bound and masculine-looking in her human form. There is, of course, a scene in which she kisses Ryuusei and expresses an interest in him - all the male cats are predictably horrified.

I liked the introduction of the lost pet cat reasonably well, although it's hard to tell if the second half of the volume was gearing up for anything new or just introducing a slightly different quirky group that Ryuusei would then have to battle. 

All in all, this continues to be a mediocre series.

Extras:

Translation notes (for some reason inserted just before the final chapter rather than at the end of the volume), one full-color illustration, and a vague map of key locations in the series.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

REVIEW: Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi, Vol. 3 (book) by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, translated by Suika and Lianyin Pengie

Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation is a fantasy danmei (Chinese m/m) series. I bought my copy of this volume new.

This review includes slight spoilers.

Review:

If you're expecting this volume to pick up where the previous one left off, you'll be sorely disappointed, because the author starts this off with a 200-page flashback to Wei Wuxian's younger days, before he became known as the Yiling Patriarch, when Jiang Cheng still regarded him as a brother and lots of beloved family members were still alive. 

The Wen Clan of Qishan demands that each of the other clans send at least twenty sect disciples to Qishan to be "educated" by members of the Wen Clan. Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian are two of the ones sent by the Jiang Clan. Lan Wangji is sent by the Lan Clan - which Wei Wuxian learns has been devastated by the Wen Clan. The group of sect members ends up at the mercy of Wen Chao, the youngest son of the leader of the Wen Clan, a bully who delights in sending them after yao beasts and then claiming their victories as his own. Things only get worse from there and eventually lead to Wei Wuxian inventing and embracing demonic cultivation.