torachan: ewan mcgregor pulling his glasses down to look over the top (ewan glasses)
Whoops. Been so busy with Irene here that I haven't had much time on the internet and didn't manage to get my reading post done on Wednesday or even on Thursday! Still, I had a lot to talk about this week and by next week will surely have forgotten, so I'd better do it now while I have a chance. :D

What are you currently reading?
Currently back to reading manga only, I guess? I'm about halfway through two different volumes, 7 Seeds 24 and Aozora Yell 11. Aozora Yell is one that I bought several months ago and it's just been sitting on my desk because I always go for my iphone instead of physical books. But since I'm not doing a book club book this round, I thought I would try and read some physical books (both prose and manga) that I have sitting around, as I really like the idea of using the book club to read non-ebooks.

I forgot how much I love Aozora Yell. How could I have forgotten? It's just so, so, so cute. (If you're not familiar with the series, you may be familiar with the author from her other series, High School Debut, which actually did get an official English release. All her stuff is the same sweet/heartwarming kind of thing.) This volume starts Tsubasa's second year, so there are a bunch of new characters introduced as new first-years join the brass band.

Meanwhile in 7 Seeds, things continue to get more and more exciting. Really, I am just absolutely blown away by the most recent turn of events. How does Tamura-sensei manage to keep coming up with these awesome ideas?

What did you recently finish reading?
Well, on Sunday I finished Go by Kaneshiro Kazuki, exactly on the last day of that book club round, so perfect timing. :) Here's my book club questions for the end of the round:

1. Are you glad you've finally read this book? Would you read more books in this genre or by this author as a result? Would you recommend this book to others?

Very glad I finally read it! Like I said in my initial post, I watched the movie over ten years ago and bought the book soon after and it's just been sitting here ever since. XD Plus it's very good timing since I'm heading to Book Off next week and taking some stuff to sell and I can include this with my manga and CDs.

I don't think the author has really written a whole lot else, and the genre is just...modern fiction/literary fiction, I guess. Which is what I mostly read in Japanese anyway. I would recommend it to anyone who can read Japanese! It's both an interesting story and a good look at what it's like to be an ethnic minority in Japan.

2. What's your favourite quote or scene from the book? Alternatively, which is your least favourite, or the one that made you think the most, or the one that made you lose all patience with the book?
I don't really tend to think of books in terms of favorite scenes and least favorite scenes.

3. How did you enjoy reading to a deadline? Were you strict with yourself? Did you have a schedule? Was the book too long or too short for the time frame of the challenge?

This book was really the perfect length (a bit under 250 pages). If I were reading an ebook, I could do with something longer, but since this was a physical book, it meant that my two main reading times (in bed before going to sleep and on my lunch breaks at work) were times I was reading something other than the book club book. (I don't want to lug a physical book to work and I don't have a bedside lamp, so the only reading I can do is with something that has its own light like my phone.) By reading about twenty pages a day, I was able to keep on track while still being able to miss a day or two if I didn't have time to get to my reading. I didn't really have a set schedule, just tried to keep to about that number of pages each time.

In addition to my book club book, I also finally finished the fic I was reading for what felt like forever!

How the mouth changes its shape (132531 words) by breathedout
Chapters: 20/20
Fandom: Sherlock (TV), Sherlock Holmes & Related Fandoms
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Underage
Relationships: Sherlock Holmes/John(nie) Watson, Sherlock Holmes/Victor(ia) Trevor, John(nie) Watson/OFC
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, John(nie) Watson, Victor(ia) Trevor, Sally Donovan, Original Characters, lots of them
Additional Tags: Genderswap, Alternate Universe - 1950s, Butch/Femme, Gender Issues, Gender Roles, Case Fic, bildungsroman, World War II
Summary: 1955. Under the placid veneer of suburban playparks and middle-class conformity churns a hidden London: femmes and butches dancing close in basement bars; clandestine love between women. To Sherlock Holmes, struggling private detective and mistress of disguise, it’s a realm she renounced years before. To Johnnie Watson, daredevil ambulance driver turned auto mechanic, it’s become a little too familiar. But when someone is murdered in the washroom of the city’s most notorious lesbian club, the investigation will lead both women to reconsider their assumptions about themselves, each other, and the world in which they live.

This was really good! I've not read anything this long in years and the length was definitely daunting, but I'm glad I gave it a chance. I definitely found Sherlock more likable as a woman (I'm sure that male!Sherlock is often written in a more likable way in fic than he is on the show, but here it was more that I didn't find the arrogance as off-putting in a female character vs a male character).

What do you think you'll read next?
I just realised I hadn't downloaded this week's Jump, so that for sure! But also in addition to Aozora Yell, I'd like to read at least one other volume of physical manga that I have here on my desk, maybe either Tegami Bachi 15 or Tera Girl 2. Also I would like to read one of the non-manga books on my shelf, something short that I can finish in the two weeks of the book club round, so that I'm ready to start fresh with a new book when the round I'm sitting out ends. A likely candidate is All I Asking for Is My Body by Milton Murayama, since it's only about a hundred pages long.
torachan: (Default)
1. Watched the second-to-last episode of Better Off Ted season one last night. We're saving the finale for tonight. It was sooooo good! I love that show so much, and I especially love Poria di Rossi. It's going to be a long wait until season two, though.

2. We had super yummy grilled foods for dinner. Grilled up hamburgers, hot dogs, onions, and corn on the cob (we were supposed to do asparagus, too, but forgot it). I had one ear of corn with butter and salt, and one that I had brushed soy sauce on before grilling. The latter was good, but I think I should have soaked it more, maybe. I wanted a stronger flavor. Anyway, also had a hamburger with cheese, grilled onions, and bacon guacamole. Mmmmm...

3. I finally, finally, finally got my hands on scans of Kawahara Kazune's new series Aozora Yell yesterday! Just volume one, but I'm hopeful someone will scan vols. 2 and 3 soon. Or maybe Book Off will have them when we go next week. It's such a cute series. I mean, how could it not be? This is Kawahara Kazune we're talking about, and I have loved everything she's done.

This one is about a girl who sees this high school baseball team play at Koushien (national championship) when she's little, and falls instantly in love with the trumpeters in the brass band. She joins the music club in elementary school, but never gets up the courage to say she wants to play the trumpet. In jr. high everyone convinces her not to try out for the music club. But finally in high school she sticks to her guns and goes to the school she saw in the championships and joins their brass band.

If you like any of Kawahara's stuff, you'll like this. The focus on club/sport and sort of timeless quality is reminding me a little more of Sensei! than High School Debut (which felt more modern to me), though I realise the latter is what people outside of Japan are more familiar with.
torachan: (Default)
Kawahara Kazune "High School Debut" - 5/5

I loved this so much! *_* This is the fastest I've read a manga in ages. Usually I haven't been reading more than a few volumes a week because I'm trying to read more books, and I always have a ton of stuff on my to-do list, so I feel bad when I'm just reading, but I couldn't resist! I blew through all thirteen volumes in about three days.

As I've mentioned before, I've been a fan of Kawahara Kazune for a long time. While Sensei! was running, it was one of my very favorite manga, and I'm really glad to see that things haven't changed much in Kawahara Landa. High School Debut feels more modern than Sensei! (not that Sensei! is really old, but it started running in '96), but I'm pleased to see that she's still writing the same sort of feel-good story as always. The innocence of her stories is always part of their charm.

The story starts off with 10th grade tomboy Haruna deciding that after devoting her jr. high years to softball, she's going to devote her high school years to romance. Except she has no idea how to go about it. Then one day she meets You, a really cool guy who has good fashion sense and knows what it takes to be popular, and she has the bright idea of asking him to coach her so she can get a boyfriend. The fun thing about this is how it totally doesn't work. It's not My Fair Lady, and Haruna doesn't get transformed, but she does end up falling for You, natch.

I loved Haruna's character, how oblivious she is and how cheerful. I loved You and Assa and Fumi and Asaoka and Mami (and all the minor characters like Matsuzaka and the Houjou siblings and the 10th grade boy who's obsessed with You (I can't remember his name!) and Haruna's little brother Kentarou). I loved pretty much every plotline, although I found it really hard to believe that You fell for Miyabi's trick so easily. Oh, and Haruna's weight gain was pretty ridiculous considering it was only a few days. I also thought maybe my wish was going to come true and Mami's "betrayal" was going to be that she liked Haruna, not You. I knew it was 99.9% wishful thinking, but when she said it wasn't about You, I was really hoping! *sigh*

But really, I loved it. Whole-heartedly. Definitely one of my favorite school romances ever.*

Only up through volume 8 has officially been released in English, but the entire series has apparently been scanlated.



*That said, I couldn't help but thinking about the story...not the story I wished it could be, because like I said, I honestly did love every minute of this, but the story I wished it could have been, too. The story where Haruna and Mami are baby dykes and don't know it yet, and You is a bit more like Justin from Ugly Betty in his fashion advice, and there's romance, just not between You and Haruna. I want that story! I know it would be playing into a lot of stereotypes, but I still want it! I want it like burning!
torachan: (Default)
So it's a new year and I'm going to try and be a little more thorough in both my book and manga reviews.

The first thing I've read this year is four short story collections from Kawahara Kazune (Sensei!, High School Debut). It looks like there's a full scanlation of Ai no Tame ni (you need to create an account to download, but it takes five seconds) and a partial one of 500 Mile. The scanlation of Ai no Tame ni is actually a translation of a translation (Chinese) and thus kind of iffy (they got the main character's name wrong in the title story!) but better than nothing.

Ai no Tame ni - 5/5 )

500 Miles - 3.5/5 )

Muteki no Love Power - 3.5/5 )

Shiawase no Kanzume - 3/5 )

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