Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Library Wars: Love and War



Library Wars: Love & War Kiiro Yumi, original concept Hiro Arikawa, translated from the Japanese by John Werry

This is a mega-review of vol. 1-13 (aka, the ones that are currently available in English)


The Library Freedom Act

Libraries have the freedom to acquire their collections.

Libraries have the freedom to circulate materials in their collections.

Libraries guarantee the privacy of their patrons.

Libraries oppose any type of censorship.

When libraries are imperiled, librarians will join together to secure their freedom.

In the not-too-distant future, Japan passes the "Media Betterment Act" which censors objectionable material. Librarians are against censorship and will fight to keep their collections free and available. Literally fight. Like, they made an army. To fight against the federal censors(and their army).

AND YOU WONDER WHY I LOVE THIS?!

I devoured this series. Like, read all of them in a week, often staying up way past bedtime because I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. I love the overall concept. Plus, not only is about people fighting to protect access to materials (with their literal lives!), but it's a shoju manga, so SO MUCH SEXUAL TENSION.

Our main character, Iku Kasahara wants to join the Library Defense Force to be like her "prince"-- a member who saved a book she wanted to buy from censorship. She has passion, but not a lot of skill and is driven hard by her Sargent Dojo (who, um, OBVIOUSLY is her "prince.") She eventually becomes the first woman on a super elite squad that has to both be an army fighter, but also an actual librarian. But, over the run of the series, this is far from the only relationship we see (I won't say my favorite, because it develops pretty late and is a bit of a spoiler.)

I love the politics and maneuvering the library forces do. I like the plotline where Kasahara's parents don't know what she does because she knows they won't approve. I love love love Kasahara's roommate, Asako Shibazaki. She's very beautiful and a bit aloof and a lot of people read her as shallow, but she has a lot going on beneath the surface. She's a librarian with some serious hidden talents. I love the way her character develops. (In fact, she might be my favorite character.)

I like that there are cultural end notes to explain things, and several bonus mangas at the end of most volumes to fill in some quiet moments.

The over-the-top melodrama of some of the relationship stuff gets old, but I'm starting to recognize that it's standard for a lot of shoju manga.

Overall though, I LOVE THIS SERIES and am trying to force all my coworkers to read it. (LIBRARIES BUILT AN ARMY TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF ACCESS FROM GOVERNMENT CENSORS. DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE.)

If I understand Wikipedia correctly, there are 15 total volumes in this series. 13 are out in English now, and the 14th comes out in October. Based on past publication schedules, I'm guessing the 15th will be out next April. My one regret? This is based on a novel series and the source material doesn't seem to be available in English.

Books Provided by... my local library

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Meg Cabot's Royalty



Royal Wedding: A Princess Diaries Novel

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess

Wahoo! Princess Mia is back! It's a few years post-college and she's trying to juggle the antics of her grandmother and father, her charity work, and her royal commitments. Sadness though! Mr. Gianni (the math teacher her mom started dating in the first book) died a little bit before this book takes place. :(

The big press speculation is why hasn't Michael proposed yet, but hey! as you can probably guess by the title, he does! And then they have to deal with the headache of letting Grandmere anywhere near the wedding plans.

More complicating factors:

1. Her dad was arrested for driving his new race car (at race car speeds) down the highway
2. Her dad is going to lose the election for Prime Minister
3. Her dad has another child, who's been living out in Jersey that no one knew about.

Plus, Mia's usual insanity.

Honestly, if you like the Cabot, especially The Princess Diaries this is a good one to pick up. I love seeing Mia as an adult--she has really grown and matured while still being Mia and I'm excited that the new middle grade series will let us see where her life goes!

Speaking of the Middle Grade series, even if you don't read the rest of the series, I recommend reading From the Notebooks along with this book. There is MAJOR plot overlap, but it's from two different sides. I love the scenes where Mia is thinking "OMG, I've ruined this girl's life" and Olivia is thinking "OMG! THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER!"

Olivia's track is also going to be very different than Mia's (how/why is a major spoiler so just trust me on this one) so I'm excited for the series in general.

Books Provided by... my local library

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Monday, June 08, 2015

What I've Read Lately: Harlequin Presents




This week, I'm super excited to be on The Worst Bestsellers talking about The Greek Tycoon's Blackmailed Mistress by Lynne Graham. (Spoiler Alert: I didn't like it.) In preparation for the episode, I read a lot of Harlequin Presents titles, and a I really did like most of them (heightening my dismay with a certain Greek Tycoon.) I will definitely be reading more and also highly recommend this Pictorial Jezebel article on the history of Harlequin.

Ruthless Billionaire, Forbidden Baby Emma Darcy

This was great. Tamalyn is a midwife and meets Fletcher at a college friend's wedding (he's her brother). They're both in the wedding party and have to walk together. They then meet up again at another wedding and hook up. Fletcher is a young hot tech billionaire and when he's in town, he and Tamalyn get together. And then she gets pregnant. He insists they marry, because if their kid is a child prodigy like him, he wants what he never had--someone around who understands how alienating it can be. She rolls with it and they get along but they aren't in love. Until they are.

I liked this one because the conflict wasn't avoidable--it was more just learning how to mesh personalities and be a team. The marriage of convenience didn't come with any stipulations and Fletcher was an alpha, but not an asshat.

Pretender to the Throne Maisey Yates

Loved this one. (And I realized it was in a series, and bought the rest of the series so I could read it because I wanted mooooooooooooooooooore.) It's time for Xander, the playboy prince, to return home and lead his country. He really doesn't want to for REASONS. (I'm not sure if they're spoilery reasons, of if it was a bit of a mystery because I was coming in at book 3 of a series. Anyway, they're legit reasons.) But he does, and the first thing he does is find Layna, his ex-fiance. He needs her help if he's going to make this work. However, she's been living at a convent, because after he left, she was horribly disfigured in an acid attack and has hidden away ever since, and other REASONS.

So, I loved this one because they treated their engagement and relationship very much like a partnership for the good of the country, with the hopes of maybe turning into something real. They both knew what they were getting into and there weren't illusions. I also really liked them as characters--they both have a lot of heavy stuff in their past that's weighing them down (there are a lot of repercussions to the acid attack, and the event that made Xander leave in the first place had a lot of lasting impact on the kingdom in general). I really like that they both need each other in order to work through they're issues--it's a very equal relationship in that they're both healing each other, which was nice. I also love the fact that Xander's self-aware enough to know when he's being an ass. Sometimes he doesn't care, but he still realizes he's doing it. Really excited to read the others in the series.

Secrets of a Bollywood Marriage Susanna Carr.

Tina and Dev's marriage was a big deal in Bollywood, but Tina's been away for several months and now she's back, asking for divorce. Dev needs to present a stable home life, so if she acts like they're still an item for 2 months (which, because the servants will talk, involves sharing a bed, but nothing has to happen in the bed) he'll give her the divorce and minimize the scandal.

Overall, I loved this one. I loved that it looks at the pain of miscarriage and how it really hurt their relationship. I love how Tina wasn't ashamed of seeking the mental health help she needed. I liked the look at the workings of Bollywood film industry and how Tina wasn't afraid to demand what she wanted and needed. Dev makes a few missteps (including a big lie I'm not keen on, even if the plot hinges on it) but overall, yes, I really liked this one a lot.

A Prize Beyond Jewels Carole Mortimer.

This one I didn't like as much. Rafe is a gallery owner playboy who never has any problems with the ladies, so why is Nina always resisting him? Nina's father is super over-protective so what little she does give Rafe is a major rebellion.

Part of the reason I didn't like this as much is writing quality-- it's really repetitive, so I kept thinking I was reading the same page over and over, even though I wasn't. Rafe often crosses into asshat territory and while Nina had some real meat to her character, Rafe just didn't. Also, so much of Nina's reluctance stems on THE GREAT FAMILY MYSTERY (instead of Rafe's asshattyness) and then it's all revealed in this big rush and eh. It just didn't work for me.



All Books Provided by... my local library

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

So many books to read...

Alas and alack, my time on the collection development committee is done. So here's the last round-up of books I'm looking forward to. It's this month's and last, so it's HUGE, but makes for a most awesome summer reading list!!!



Dietland by Sarai Walker. Plum wants weight loss surgery, but while waiting, she ends up joining "an underground community of women and agrees to a series of challenges including work with a group that stages anti-misogyny terrorist acts." Pubs May 26

Girl at War by Sara Novic. A college student in Manhattan has to make sense of her childhood, when she lived through the horrors of the Croatian civil war. Pubs on May 16.

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan. Inspired by Scottish folklore, an exiled shoreside burial coordinator and a floating circus performer deal with an offshore storm. INSPIRED BY SCOTTISH FOLKLORE. Pubs May 19



The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza. Imogen must battle her 20-something tech saavy assistant, who's trying to take over Imogen's fashion magazine. It's supposedly wickedly funny. Pubs on May 19

Re Jane by Patricia Park. In this retelling of Jane Eyre (really, do you need to know more than that?) Jane Re is a half-Korean, half-white orphan who travels to Seoul in search of her roots. Can't wait to see how they handle Bertha. Pubs on May 5.

Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham. A love story told in email and other online communication, complete with commentary from friends. I love digital epistolary. Out now.



War of the Encyclopaedists by Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite. Speaking of digital epistolary! Two friends, on deployed in Iraq, keep in touch through wikipedia edits. Pubs May 19

The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader. In 13th century England, a woman decides to become an anchoress, only to find it's not the escape she thought. I'm very intrigued by anchoresses, so yes please. Pubs May 12.

The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard. Aron and his friends find ways to smuggle things and out of the Warsaw ghetto to help their friends and families survive. Pubs May 12.



The Perfect Letter by Chris Harrison. Harrison hosts The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Everything I know about this book makes it a beautiful trainwreck that I can't wait for. Pubs May 19.

Queen of Flowers and Pearls by Gabriella Ghermandi. In the 80s, a young girl hears family stories of Italy's occupation of Ethiopia and and Ethiopian resistance. She is then drawn to other people's stories of that time, especially as she moves to Italy and has to come to terms with what it means to be Ethiopian in Ethiopia, and what it means to be a foreigner when abroad. Soooooo much catnip in this one. Out now.

The Figaro Murders by Laura Lebow. A historical fiction mystery about opera?! Say no more. Out now.



The Cherokee Rose by Tiya Miles. A story about a Cherokee plantation and missionaries and how three women today discover that the family past they thought they knew doesn't even begin to tell the full story. Out now.

Barefoot Dogs by Antonio Ruiz-Camacho. A novel told in linked short stories about a large Mexican that scatters when its patriarch is kidnapped. Out now.

Scale-Bright by Benjanun Sriduangkaew. A novella and short stories that take place in a mythical China? Oh yes. Shortlisted for the BSFA. Out now.



Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese. Because here's what Kirkus said "A powerful novel of hard men in hard country reminiscent of Jim Harrison's Legends of the Fall." Comparing it to my teen self's favorite movie is a sure way to perk my interest. Plus, it's written by a Native author. Pubs May 12.

The Four Books by Lianke Yan. I loved Yan's Serve the People and will of course be picking up his latest, about life in a Mao re-education camp. Out now.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. A book-seller runs a floating bookshop on the Seine, healing his customers through books, but can he heal himself? Pubs June 23.



My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman. First of all, that's an awesome title. A young girl is left a series of letters by her grandmother that show her the reality behind her grandmother's bedtime stories. Pubs June 16.

The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna. German POWs in WWII are put to work in a Wisconsin farm community. I like books in my home state! Pubs June 2.

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. IT'S BY JUDY BLUME! JUDY BLUME! JUDY BLUME! THIS IS NOT A DRILL, ALL HANDS ON DECK, JUDY BLUME!!!! Pubs June 2.



Wars of the Roses: Margaret of Anjou by Conn Iggulden. Historical fiction about the War of the Roses! Second in a series, I'll have to start with Wars of the Roses: Stormbird. Pubs June 16.

The Travels of Daniel Ascher by Deborah Bertherat-Levy. Helene's great-uncle writes a very popular series of YA mysteries, but it's his story, adopted by Helene's family to escape the Holocaust, that holds the real mysteries. Pubs May 26.

The Queen's Caprice: Stories by Jean Echenoz. Mostly because the prose is supposed to be gorgeous and the translation phenomenal. Out now.



The Hanged Man by P. N. Elrod. Paranormal Victorian mystery that explore gender and class issues? GIMME. Pubs May 19.

Backlands by Victoria Shorr. A novel based on the lives of real-life Brazilian folk heroes Lampiao and Maria Bonita. Compared to Bonnie-and-Clyde, with a band of fellow outlaws they try to gain control of the Brazilian outback. Out now.


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Thursday, April 16, 2015

What's Next?

I'm a bit behind on blogging about all the books I put stars next to when I'm doing collection development work. They're the books I want to read myself.



Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway. It's a novel that explores the relationships between adult sisters and aging parents while weaving in the (true!) story of a female samurai. It pubbed last week.


She Will Build Him a City by Raj Kamal Jha. 3 stories (that I assume bump and touch against each other) in today's New Delhi in a style that Booklist compared to Gabriel Garcia Marquez's magical realism. Out now.

Black Diamond by Zakes Mda. A biting social commentary that examines race, gender, and class in contemporary South Africa, in a package with an enjoyable plot? Yes please! Out now.




God Help the Child by Toni Morrison. Um, it's by TONI MORRISON. Pubs on April 21.

Prudence by Gail Carriger. A new series about Alexia and Conall's daughter? That takes place in India? It's out now, and my hold just came in on it. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, start with Soulless.

All Involved by Ryan Gattis. Gangs use the 92 LA Riots as chaotic cover to settle old scores. Intriguing. It pubbed last week.



Diamond Head by Cecily Wong. Family secrets. Multi-generational saga. Wealthy shipping family in China and Hawaii. 3 catnips, 1 book. Out on the 14th.

Madam President by Nicolle Wallace. Awful cover aside, it's about what happens when major terrorist attacks happen while a crew is filming a day-in-the-life thing on the President. I'm hoping it's like the Access episode of West Wing, but cooler. Plus, it's by a former White House communications director. Pubs on April 28.

Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick. It's a romance that involves solving a murder among the wealthy elite. Nice. Pubs on the 21st.




Perfect Match by Fern Michaels. A former NFL player takes over a matchmaking business? I assume hijinks and smooching ensue. Out on April 28th.

The Thunder of Giants by Joel Fishbane. In 1937, Andorra stars in a biopic about Anna, who lived 100 years before. Both are giants, but led very different lives. Pubs on the 14th.

Meadowlands: A World War I family saga by Elizabeth Jeffrey. Aristocracy in WWI. Pubbed at the beginning of the month.



The Jazz Palace by Mary Morris. Jews and mobsters in Jazz Age Chicago. And all the catnip! Out now.

Orhan's Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian. A PEN finalist and debut about the Armenian genocide and family secrets. Out now.

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. A Viet Cong agent in LA int he 70s spies on refugees. I love stories that explore how wars never really end. Out now.



What's new or coming out this month that you can't wait for?

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.