Pulse by Danielle Koste
Published January 1st 2018 by Danielle Koste
Source: Purchased from Author
Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Rowan Platts is addicted to success.

When she’s presented with the chance to work on a top secret project fronted by her idol, renowned virologist Dr. Margot Miller, Rowan signs her life away without second thought. The realization she’s gotten in over her head comes only after the subject of their study is revealed: a boy with a bad attitude and an uninhibited taste for human blood.

He’s a medical anomaly. Having the ability to crush metal with his bare hands and hear a heartbeat from across the room, it would make Rowan’s career if she was the one to discover what made him so unusual.

Easier said than done, with a subject who prefers snapping necks over answering questions.

So, IDC what they’re saying about vampires being an early 2000’s trend, over and done – give me a book about them and I’ll still read it happily. Enter, PULSE.

The premise was really cool! I really liked the idea of approaching the trope from a medical perspective, and appreciate the effort that went into setting up an overall atmosphere to match. But, while the writing didn’t hinder the story, and the set-up was interesting, the overall execution fell flat: it came off as a little lifeless and very pointed, littered with blatant tells that showed the author had a very specific idea in mind for this story, which isn’t in itself a bad thing, but when story elements are sacrificed to keep the story on a certain path, well, thats when things start to fall apart.

I‌ was in a scribbly sort of mood while reading PULSE and took notes, which I‌ do just about once every blue moon, so, brace yourself? And, if you’re in a long-rambling-review-reading sort of mood – let me explain.

I really liked Rowan at the start! Particularly, the unabashed way she strove for success; it was bold and driven in a way that I‌ found nothing short of admiring. It colors the way she sees a lot of things, like her very specific perception of Miller, because of it. Our introduction to her paints her as tenacious, hints at a morally questionable side, and sets the stakes.

But then Rowan meets Lyall, the story rEALLY starts, and that is when things start going a little awry.

Rowan comes off as driven for success, might I‌ say slightly manipulative, and with an almost callously selective moral compass at the beginning. But then, when we get to the talk about her reasons for wanting to break Lyall out, it seems to go against everything we’ve been suggested and everything that’s been established about her character. The complete 180 in her approach to the laboratory happenings might’ve been more fitting and less jarring had there been some sort of catalyst to her change of mind, something to force her to reflect, but that’s the thing – there is none. In the bigger picture, sure, there’s all her interactions with Lyall, but throughout the story, they’ve never affected Rowan herself so much as they’ve affected her perceptions of other people, if that makes sense? Rowan’s character is inconsistent, propped up by a suggested ideal by the author at the beginning, and then taken apart to suit the direction of the story as the plot progresses.

(And, the characters keep floating this idea that Rowen’s like Miller, but I‌ don’t see it at all? Rowan is an inconsistent plot-aid, and Miller is a one-dimensional villain.)

Rowan’s also prone to making unprompted leaps in logic, especially from single-instance observations. It’s the first thing you’re told when you set foot in lab – everything and anything you assert needs to be backed up, or someone’s going to come at your work with a pen, or a laptop, and tear you apart in 10000 characters or less. Okay, so maybe that last part applies strictly to my university’s internal system, but the sentiment still stands: no professor’s just going to… take your word for it, at face level – “I trust the look in your eyes” – a sentence or two without examining the evidence or without further discussion. At best, it’ll be “your hypothesis seems promising – let’s go.”

This review’s getting longer and longer, so cue: some more lab-related inconsistencies, rapid-fire.
> The insistence to wrap up Lyall’s vampirism in a Wikipedia-article conversation about hemoglobin, cringiness aside, is stark and confusing when held up to the writing’s later insistence on various descriptions of “the monster within.”
> Rowan and Lyall’s important conversations that took place within the lab, despite him being a literal test subject, just magically happen to not be recorded?
> No one in the lab cares about the actual LIVE SPECIMEN when they have… limited numbers? They’re all just. Willing to give up the live specimen? Because of a small set of numbers and the possibility of recreating him in the uncertain future? Thats. That’s not how any of this works?????
> No one calls Lyall a vampire – which is kind of weird, that they stumble across this super speedy and super strong guy who needs blood to survive and falls apart with blood thirst, and no one, not one of them, mentions anything about vampires? Like if some hat my lab was examining started talking and telling me I was a Slytherin, I’d be like what the fuck is that the sorting hat? Lets put all our cards on the table: a vampire is exactly what he is.

While we’re on the topic of weird jumps, they’ve literally been doing the same thing to Lyall for chapters, but suddenly halfway through Rowan decides to feel bothered by it and?‌ What changed??? (I’ll answer that rhetorical question nothing did; the entire story operates under a static set of stakes, but at choice points beneficial to the plot, the characters themselves suddenly decide that they’re going to start doing things differently.)‌ SO‌ THEN when Miller. Finally. Starts to feel off to Rowan, it’s nothing that Miller hasn’t done or said before. The scene’s literally just Miller being Miller, for the 100th+ page in a row, but somehow this?‌is the straw that broke the camel’s back? Rowan’s even helped and stood by Miller, her self-professed idol, against Phelps, her kindly mentor-professor-boss, before, in the face of arguably more blatantly Bad words and actions, but somehow it’s This Particular Scene that does it in for Rowan, and we have hardly any prompts as to why.

Lyall’s also a mess, characterization-wise. He’s a caricature to suit Rowan’s development and the story’s progression; his moods always reflect the best (and most predictable) way to move the plot forward – not necessarily contained to Lyall, the character. Case in point: his change of heart at the end. I’m doing my best to keep this review spoiler-free, so I’ll just say that, like a lot of things I’ve pointed out, there’s absolutely zero build-up and lead-in. Also, his entire relationship with Rowan.

So, honestly, thank fuck for Cameron, often the sole voice of reason, and also the one who finally asked “what makes alien boy so special?” because – add that to the list! – I have no clue.

And then, more specific things:

In the vein of not being very self-aware, the narration doesn’t always seem to follow Rowan, despite the chosen POV. I.e. when Rowan realizes that she’s in over her head, there’s a place in the narration that conveys this, and then the character directly conveys it again, a little while later, and it’s these little disconnects that makes the writing feel a little off, a little hard to get into.

Also, the dialogue feels stilted at times. Many conversations in PULSE don’t quite flow so much as they… jump?‌ From one thing to another, seemingly purposefully, because there’s always some big line, some big idea at the end that needs delivering, even if the conversation doesn’t start quite at the right point to deliver it. Certain lines like, for example, “Morality is the disease, and I’m the cure” – just by looking at it, written out here, you can see the proud jazz-hands flashing-neon-lights looky-looky-here but in-text, it lacks impact because it lacks the buildup and proper conversation placement.

So, PULSE. The premise was cool, but the execution was less than idea.

As of today, I have 79 reviews on this blog! I’ve got more than twice that amount up on Goodreads, but for the sake of my hands, I decided to just rifle through the posts I’ve published to Aerou, and… annnnnd!!

//drumroll//

Here’s: the list of 100 most commonly used words in my reviews!

(It is, predictably, a lot of adverbs – really, actually, just, etc, etc.)

But because I’m a nerd like that, I decided to analyze all my Aerou-published reviews to put together this little list, more for my personal entertainment than anything, really. It was fun to see the stats change each added reviews!

My book-related blogging patterns, much like my reading patterns, are pretty cyclic. I’d go through a period where I review a ton of books (and, inevitably, end up spamming my poor Goodreads friends and followers – whelp), and schedule in a ton of posts on my blog. Then, at some point, I’d hit a block with reviewing, slow down, and then take a break, as my scheduled posts slowly publish, one by one. Then, somewhere along the way, I’d pick up another book that left me with a strong impression – be it good or bad – or something, something that’d nudge me to scrawl down a short line or two on Goodreads, and then that “short line or two” would turn into one of these rambling blocks of essay, and the cycle would wash, rinse, repeat itself. Sometimes, there’d be a blogging break.

But because of the bouts of writing and the sprinkled-in breaks, groups of my reviews will share similar writing styles, and then a break hits, and after the break, my writing style might slightly change, and thus the next group of reviews would be in a slightly different style from the previous. It makes sense, but it was pretty cool seeing it live via the tracker when I was gathering this info, and really interesting to see how the kinds of words I frequently use changed over time.

So, here’s the list of words that’ve appeared most frequently throughout my reviews! (And also, perhaps, some words I should stop using so often)

  1. really
  2. all
  3. like
  4. book
  5. just
  6. about
  7. one
  8. read
  9. story
  10. little
  11. because
  12. more
  13. way
  14. much
  15. characters
  16. pretty
  17. other
  18. though
  19. things
  20. lot
  21. first
  22. character
  23. thing
  24. kind
  25. some
  26. love
  27. liked
  28. something
  29. feel
  30. while
  31. end
  32. going
  33. most
  34. think
  35. good
  36. time
  37. books
  38. know
  39. see
  40. only
  41. plot
  42. well
  43. after
  44. same
  45. quite
  46. even
  47. author
  48. super
  49. over
  50. every
  51. actually
  52. reading
  53. any
  54. definitely
  55. part
  56. two
  57. say
  58. loved
  59. between
  60. thought
  61. everything
  62. through
  63. here
  64. pages
  65. enough
  66. romance
  67. made
  68. make
  69. around
  70. whole
  71. people
  72. felt
  73. especially
  74. many
  75. rather
  76. never
  77. still
  78. writing
  79. maybe
  80. beginning
  81. few
  82. interesting
  83. best
  84. being
  85. half
  86. cute
  87. series
  88. together
  89. better
  90. right
  91. main
  92. okay
  93. probably
  94. ending
  95. nice
  96. start
  97. life
  98. bad
  99. everyone
  100. idea

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
Published December 9th 2014 by Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora’s throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it’s too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

(Gonna get this off my chest real quick: it’s on the first page or so, but Sleeping Beauty’s prince was already married?‌ UGH.)

The first third of Princess of Thorns was pretty solid. The character’s were fun, it wasn’t… quite like the synopsis – more like a high fantasy that had borrowed names from famous fairytales – but a good read just the same. The latter section, though, is where the cracks start to show, and everything starts to unravel.

Niklaas was kind of. Eh? Upon first their first meeting, but it was nice to see his character change. Actually, both he and Aurora are pretty bratty and lofty and cocky at times, but I‌ liked their easy exchanges, so it didn’t bother me in the slightest.

Rather, the world-building – or rather the lack of world–building bothered me the most. So there are. An enchanted circle of briars?‌ And fairies. And ogres. And another world? And something about magic-born children and briar-born children and portals to other worlds with ogre mothers in them, but it’s never quite explained, only glossed over in a very you’ll-understand-eventually sort of way that I‌ never quite understood. Ditto for Niklaas and Aurora’s curses. And their families. (Also, on the subject of things I don’t understand, Aurora doesn’t quite so much “dress up” as a guy upon first meeting Niklaas as she does “get mistaken for” a guy and I‌ still really don’t understand how that can happen when we see him emoting over her beautiful face and curves and whatnot later on?)

And, while we’re talking about Aurora and Niklaas, Aurora-and-Niklaas: the romance was kind of strange? They had really easy-going friendship vibes going on, and then Niklaas found out Aurora was a girl, and then suddenly Aurora was wondering if she had ~feelings~ for Niklaas. I’d understand the way he treated her changed after the realization – and was actually pretty surprised and found it a little strange that it hadn’t changed that much – but this slam-dunk into romance read awkwardly. The last part of the book literally books it (ha!) from best-bros to full-blown-romance with no development or progression in between.

Speaking of things that don’t exist – the stakes. It was fun to follow Aurora and Niklaas’s trip in the first half or so of the book. But her brother’s in prison, and we’re told that there are Big Bad Ogre Plans that’ll end the world. So, the stakes should be pretty high, and there should be a lot of tension and urgency, but the execution’s pretty easy-going? A lot of things just fall into place. Crimsin, the girl at the inn, for one, virtually just shows up and glosses them over a tight spot. Even the ending doesn’t seem that climactic because of the ~exciting twist~ and even Aurora at the end wasn’t really sure what happened but just ran with it.

(And, the highlight: Princess of Thorns is the oNLY‌ stand-alone fantasy on my bookshelf – can we please spare a moment to thank Princess of Thorns from relieving me from fantasy cliffhanger hell: THANK‌‌ YOU)

Breathe, Annie, Breathe (Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally
Published July 15th 2014 by Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Auction
Rating: ★★★★★

The finish line is only the beginning.…

Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind-and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

This! Book!!

The Hundred Oaks series is one of my long-time favorites, and I thiiink, judging from the books I’ve read and the synopsis for the ones I haven’t (but will! but absolutely will!!), I might relate the most to Annie. I like Annie’s sense of humor – a little wry, a little dry, a little self-depreciating. I like how she’s hesitant, but trying. And Jeremiah was swoony-cute and charming and I loved how fluffy and supportive their relationship was? Also how they didn’t get together right away; it took time, a lot of time, but it was still them, every step of the way, and the process was really cute to read. I also really enjoyed how the spotlight was shared with Annie’s other relationships as well – with her friends, her ex-friends-turned-friends, her mother, Kyle’s family, etc.

And it was! Melodrama-free! No one gave her shit when they saw her with Jeremiah; it really was all about Annie – healing, mending relationships, accepting, moving on. Breathe, Annie, Breathe is heartwarming at it’s core, and I want the best for alllll of the characters.

On my fourth night in the dorms, I decide to buy earplugs. I love Vanessa because she’s so nice, but God, having a roommate can be annoying. It could be worse, I guess. I could have Iggy and her mandolin. But even if Vanessa were silent, I’d still have the crazy screaming people in the hallways to contend with. Two guys got into an argument because one drank the other’s Snapple. A couple broke up in the common room because he cheated with the girl who runs the projector in his film class. Our neighbors live for blasting electroclash music. Kelsey and Iggy got into a fight because Kelsey didn’t clean her hair out of the shower drain.

Freshman year, and I lived in a triple dorm room. The beds were lofted, with desks and a tiny, tiny closet wedged below them, but even then, the room was so small that they had to be packed tightly, side-by-side, with juuuuust enough room between each loft bed so that someone could squeeze through. Plus, our neighbors were the hardcore gamer type, and would sleep when the sun rose, then wake up a mere few hours later, and spend all their waking time gaming, and blasting their music for every hearing ear in the city. My rooming situation is a lot better now, and I’ve never been one for the Greek scene, but the way university is portrayed here is super relatable.

It’s also really cool to see cameos from previous Hundred Oaks books’ characters (Jordan! Sam Henry! Matt! Kate!).

“As a kid, I had the worst mile time ever. Our gym teacher made us run the mile a few times a year for something called the Presidential Fitness Test. I’d huff and puff and wonder why the hell President Bush cared how fast I could run laps around the playground. I always came in dead last.”

Breathe, Annie, Breathe is heartwarming and fluffy and cute, and there were so many relatable bits for me, both as a university student and a runner – I really, really enjoyed it!

轻易放火 by 墨宝非宝
Published June 1st 2014 by 湖南少年儿童出版社
Source: Webnovel
Rating: ★★★½☆

Jia He is a worker-bee screenwriter in China, a profession that really does not get much for recognition but suits her personality of not liking to be in the spotlight. One day, she gets a call and finds out who will be the leading actor of her latest script—Yi Wenze, her longtime idol since her teenage days. Jia He is the screenwriter on-location for this project. So, she is there, trying best to maintain her composure and contain her starstruck giddiness in front of her idol. In the process, she happily discovers, some time later, that she has become friends with her idol. Aaaah! Already a dream come true, right? Her time with this project comes to an end, and she bids farewell and returns home, thinking that if some day she runs into Yi Wenze again, they are acquainted enough that they can nod their heads in friendly greeting to one another. But then, soon after, she gets a phone call, and the name that shows up on her caller ID is… Yi Wenze.

And so, this is a story of how a little screenwriter is pursued by her idol, the one who had been in all her teenage dreams, how she goes from being idol’s diehard fan, to idol’s friend, to idol’s girlfriend, to idol’s fiancee, to idol’s… Hehehehe.

Sugary-sweet and adorable! The leading couple is cotton-candy cute, and I really appreciate the lack of melodrama (and JY’s reaction to any hint of it), but also, I feel like they jumped the gun on a lot of things, while other elements of the story ended up feeling incomplete.

老婆,你好! by 月下蝶影
Published November 4th 2014 by Createspace
Source: Webnovel
Rating: ★★½☆☆

He was confused, so he asked, “I have a car, a house, good-looks and money. What am I lacking in?”

She replied, “All those attributes are what men use to lure mistresses. So, which of those attributes is a good characteristic?”

Ashamed, he reflected, “I am loyal to one and I can host and cook. I can make the bed and accompany you when you wish to go out.”

She replied bitterly, “I shall, reluctantly, accept you then.”

Good men would not let the women they love fight with the mistress but get rid of them on their own.

I feel like I should’ve really enjoyed this? I really liked the leads individually, as well as the main secondary characters. I really liked how this novel turned so many of my least-favorite tropes completely on their heads. But the leads, while great individually, didn’t seem to have much chemistry, and I still really, really don’t understand why WC started chasing her in the first place, let alone why he persisted for so long (I refuse to believe the epilogue reason exists because that’s the Dumbest Thing). The book was slow-paced, which isn’t always bad, but the ending, with an abrupt, out-of-character proposal, and a rushed parade of scenes that quickly pushed them to their “traditional,” happy ending, dashed a lot of my expectations.

Defending Taylor
(Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally
Published July 5th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Auction
Rating: ★★½☆☆

There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

The romance was cute; I liked Taylor’s family, especially her siblings; it had all the elements of a Hundred Oaks book. But. Taylor was a hot mess and she had sO many opportunities to confess, and at the beginning it made sense, but toward the middle, it was flat out frustrating to read.

Things I Can’t Forget (Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally
Published March 1st 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Auction
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt – with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…

I’ve read Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker, and Racing Savannah, albeit a little out of series-order and a while ago, but I remember really enjoying the series for it’s fluffy yet realistic romance and sports elements. Things I Can’t Forget is my first peek back into the series after a good few years, and it’s definitely missing some of those elements I remember.

First up, a disclaimer: I’m not too good with religious books, and books that deal with heavily religious themes. Things I Can’t Forget lays it on thick, with the constant “will Brother John approve of this?” “am I living a good Christian life?” and, the golden “I hate it when Christians don’t act Christian-like” every paragraph or so. It made the first half a bit of a struggle to wade through, but I can appreciate how the author chooses to develop a character like that, and goes all out in doing so, instead of shying around Kate’s struggles, or ending it with a quick, fantastical, 180 position-reversal.

Kate’s relationships, both with Emily and Parker, were aspects I really, really loved, and the way the author took her time to explore all the ups, downs, and bends in both relationships made it feel all the more real and meaningful. (Also, Parker and Will were really fucking cute.) (Also, Jordan cameo!!!)

“King Crab Kate” and “Miniature Poodle Matt” is a cute exchange; “King Crab Kate” and “Miniature Poodle Matt” are really, really cute.

Also, back in high school, I worked at a local summer camp over my summer breaks, and covered both Chemistry (pet bottle rockets!!) and Art Director (clay chia pets and cork-board-pom-pom coasters!!!), and it was really fun to see bits and pieces of my experiences reflected here as well. Especially Brad’s thing about “I prefer working with the younger kids. Puberty scares me” and “I’d much rather deal with snakes and bears than kids going through puberty. Seems easier” – hard same. Middle and upper elementary kids are a terrifying, terrifying lot.

The ending, though, felt rushed and abrupt – all these dangling plot threads are tied up in just a small handful of pages, and it feels oddly hollow and lacking, like you had this huge cast of characters, each starkly different and unique from the other, and then at the end they were just kinda smushed together and patted on the head and then! It’s over!!

So all in all, Things I Can’t Forget was hardly set up to be a story I’d enjoy, but it’s a Miranda Kenneally book, and though it wasn’t my favorite Hundred Oaks book by any means, the supporting characters and the characters’ relationships managed to make up quite a bit.

It’s been roughly two months since my last translation but I’m back with another! You can probably start to get a sense of my basic-ass taste in music^^;;; あいみょん has such a lovely voice – I might put up a couple more of her songs’ translations sometime in the near future, so watch this space! As always, I’m sorry about my awful grammar, and please do feel free to let me know if you spot any errors! It’d be much appreciated, actually. Enjoy!

風の強さがちょっと
the wind is a little strong
心を揺さぶりすぎて
and is unsettling my heart
真面目に見つめた
the you that gazed so seriously
君が恋しい
you’re my dearest

でんぐり返しの日々
the days that somersault into one another
可哀想なふりをして
acting so pitiable
だらけてみたけど
they seemed so lazy but
希望の光は
the ray of hope was

目の前でずっと輝いている
always shining right in front of me
幸せだ
it was happiness

麦わらの帽子の君が
the you wearing a straw hat
揺れたマリーゴールドに似てる
reminded me of swaying marigolds
あれは空がまだ青い夏のこと
that was when the sky was still summer-blue
懐かしいと笑えたあの日の恋
the nostalgia made me smile, of our romance that day

「もう離れないで」と
“don’t leave me anymore”
泣きそうな目で見つめる君を
the you who looked at me as if you were about to cry
雲のような優しさでそっとぎゅっと
with that soft-kindness like a cloud, tightly,
抱きしめて 抱きしめて 離さない
I’ll hold you, hold you, never let you go

本当の気持ち全部
all of my feelings
吐き出せるほど強くはない
I’m not strong enough to reveal them
でも不思議なくらいに
but, it’s strange –
絶望は見えない
I don’t feel hopeless

目の奥にずっと写るシルエット
the silhouette burned into the back of my eyelids
大好きさ
I cherish it, you

柔らかな肌を寄せあい
your soft skin brushes mine
少し冷たい空気を2人
as we walk, just the two of us, in the slightly chilly air
かみしめて歩く今日という日に
as we enjoy this day called “today”
何と名前をつけようかなんて話して
and talk about things like what to name it

ああ アイラブユーの言葉じゃ
Ah, the words “I love you”
足りないからとキスして
aren’t enough, so I kissed you
雲がまだ2人の影を残すから
our shadows still linger in the clouds
いつまでも いつまでも このまま
forever, forever, let’s stay just like this

遥か遠い場所にいても
even if we’re somewhere far away
繋がっていたいなあ
I hope we can be connected
2人の想いが
I hope that our feelings
同じでありますように
will be the same

麦わらの帽子の君が
the you wearing a straw hat
揺れたマリーゴールドに似てる
reminded me of swaying marigolds
あれは空がまだ青い夏のこと
that was when the sky was still summer-blue
懐かしいと笑えたあの日の恋
the nostalgia made me smile, of our romance that day

「もう離れないで」と
“don’t leave me anymore”
泣きそうな目で見つめる君を
the you who looked at me as if you were about to cry
雲のような優しさでそっとぎゅっと
with that soft-kindness like a cloud, tightly,
抱きしめて 離さない
I’ll hold you, never let you go

ああ アイラブユーの言葉じゃ
Ah, the words “I love you”
足りないからとキスして
aren’t enough, so I kissed you
雲がまだ2人の影を残すから
our shadows still linger in the clouds
いつまでも いつまでも このまま
forever, forever, let’s stay just like this

離さない
never let you go
いつまでも いつまでも 離さない
forever, forever, never let you go

Archangel’s Prophecy (Guild Hunter #11) by Nalini Singh
Published October 30th 2018 by Berkley
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Midnight and dawn, Elena’s wings are unique among angelkind…and now they’re failing. The first mortal to be turned into an immortal in angelic memory, she’s regressing. Becoming more and more human. Easier to hurt. Easier to kill.

Elena and Raphael must unearth the reason for the regression before it’s too late and Elena falls out of the sky. Yet even as they fight a furious battle for Elena’s very survival, violent forces are gathering in New York and across the world.

In China, the Archangel Favashi is showing the first signs of madness. In New York, a mysterious sinkhole filled with lava swallows a man whole. In Africa, torrential monsoon rains flood rolling deserts. And in Elena’s mind whispers a haunting voice that isn’t her own.

This time, survival may not be possible…not even for the consort of an archangel.

I heard this ended on a cliffhanger so I thought I’d wait until Archangel’s War came out and I’m sO CLOSE BUT I CAVEEEEED.

> The back-and-forth, the ease and openness to communication, and the stability and depth of Elena and Raphael’s relationship will forever be my favorite thing about this series.
> The Legion has a bigger presence in this story!! That was cool.
> This was… really slow? Which, on one hand, makes sense, because it’s the book leading up to the Big Angel War (I’m assuming, because, Archangel’s War). But on the other hand, this was the eleventh of eleven books leading up to the Big Angel War, and all the previous books had no trouble with this, so I really think it’s just a This Book problem and not a problem of its placement in the overarching story.
> There was also a ton of recaps. A TON. Something like the previous ten books distilled to a couple of paragraphs and them crammed into every feasible place you could find. Which, overall, made Archangel’s Prophecy read as more filler-y than anything else.
> I ended up skimming through a fair chunk of this. I love Nalini Singh and I’ll still read anything she puts out, but this was the most filler-y, draggy, and disappointing book in the series by a long shot, and I’m pretty sad about that.
> Most everything ends on an ambiguous note, and I felt like this book was just going around and around in circles without ever really getting to the point 🙁 Like this was what the entire book was supposed to be aBOUT but then it ended juust before the Big Happening? Even all the other stuff – the family stuff (I’ve got my eyes on you, Jefferey – you better shape up, yeah?), the angelic/vampiric mystery stuff was just… glossed over… they took up a lot of physical pages but didn’t seem to take as high of an importance as Elena’s immortality business, and yet.

(But, am I still going to read Archangel’s War? HELL YEAH. One more month to goooo)

I love Yamamori Mika’s characters.

ひるなかの流星, and Suzume, particularly, is absolutely nothing like me and she’s just really pretty cool? I like the way she charges through life, boldly and just. Herself. As cheesy as it sounds, that itself is equally admirable. I remember this one scene in particular where she ties up her hare for an image change, smacks her cheeks once, and then picks herself up after falling into a bad spot – figuratively. Mamura is super cute, too. He’s awkward and bumbling and sometimes overthinks his way into embarrassing situations, but his straight-forward attempts and makes him feel genuine and endearing (and me sound like a grandmother. Look at these soft children trying to live their best lives!!). His family dynamics are wholesome and fluffy as well, and just what the story needs. Yuyuka, from love-rival to best friend, is a grounding force amidst the fluffy, bumbling main characters. Shishio, with his hipster-y off-day look and boisterous facade, is interesting and a needed addition, variety and color to ひるなかの流星’s cast of characters. Just purely based off of character line-up, and ひるなかの流星 is fluffy-cute and promising.

It is fluffy-cute! The character dynamics are just as bumbling, sweet, and endearing as you’d expect, and that, coupled with adorable artwork? It’d be stranger if it didn’t work out.

Buuuut, my only qualm? I wish the student/teacher trope would die out already. Shishio works just as well (maybe even better, honestly, especially in some of his scenes with Mamura) as a fellow student, and his dynamics with Suzume’s father can be kept if he was a slightly older student.

SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER!!
But, she ends up with Mamura. The people around her raise similar questions about the nature of her and Shishio’s relationship. It’s painted as a first love vs. lasting love, someone whose back you admire vs. someone who’s there to walk every step with you, and that in itself is a pretty nice sentiment.
SPOILERENDSPOILERENDSPOILEREND

Enter, 椿町ロンリープラネット.

First off, I’m an Aesthetic Bitch™ so of course I’m in love with the title.

You thought ひるなかの流星 was the end of it, bUT. The age gap here too bothers me A Lot (twenty-eight and sixteen?), and the constant reminders that Fumi is responsible and capable and wise beyond her years does absolutely zip zero zilch to assuage those rumors.

So, 椿町ロンリープラネット follows ひるなかの流星. I see way too much of myself in Fumi and Akatsuki, so their little monologues and baby steps to individual self-improvement are actually really nice to read, motivating, in a way, and heartwarming in another, and the reason I’ve stuck it out with the story so far? Well, that and the adorable artwork. Of course.

BUT, and yes, there’s another Big But: I don’t like how Akatsuki uses Fumi as his emotional crutch. Call me an idealist, but I like to think that any kind of genuine, happy, healthy relationship should be a two-way street. Here, Fumi is the only one providing emotional output (for the lack of better words; re-reading this, and wOW can y’all guess what kind of field I’m in). Genuine, happy, healthy relationship? Noooot quite. She ends up occupying this odd multi-status as Akatsuki’s Mom, Caretaker, Girlfriend, Charge, Housekeeper, aND Therapist and that’s far too much for anyone, let alone high-schooler, a sixteen-year-old.

So, as 椿町ロンリープラネット winds down, I can’t help but think of how much it follows ひるなかの流星. Not in the story, per say, and not exactly by means of the characters, either, though both casts do share the quality of being colorful and endearing – but in the way the casts seem to always be fluffy-cute, down-to-earth, and full of potential, yet the main characters’ romantic plots are always written into less-than-idea scenarios that, had they been written/drawn by anyone else, I probably wouldn’t have picked up.

I wrote out this long thing, practically a monster-sized musing to myself at this point, but TL;DR? I really liked ひるなかの流星, and I liked 椿町ロンリープラネット, but I feel like that was 100% because of the characters, and if the main romantic relationships hadn’t been so blatantly imbalanced, I think I would’ve enjoyed them a lot better? Yes.

Aerou turns two/five today!

The road’s been filled with hiatuses and gaps here and there, but we’ve safely arrived at Aerou’s big second anniversary!

I am almost certifiably awful at these types of celebratory post, AND somehow I managed to completely miss Aerou’s previous birthday? So I decided to venture out and see what others have done for their anniversaries! And, facts. Facts seem safe. Here are some facts to commemorate Aerou’s birthday (with previous-year’s facts mixed in as well, because I sTILL CAN’T BELIEVE I FORGOT?)

  • I’ve been blogging for roughly a decade, and Aerou is my fifth blog! I moved around a lot between wordpress, self-hosted wordpress, and blogger, and I was also a co-blogger for a stretch of time, but I think I’ve found a good home for my tiny, ramble-y corner.
  • The highest-rated book review of the past blogging year award goes to The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand!
  • The lowest-rated book review of the past blogging year award goes to Night Broken by Patricia Briggs
  • The 3-star and 4-star rating tags are tied for most-used ratings of the past year
  • I’ve finally put that Translations tag to good use: translations of recent songs I’ve been enjoying have also recently joined my blogging queue!
  • I’ve never gone under three words for aaany of my post titles, and even if you completely disregard all the really long bite-sized titles, most of my post titles are mile-long fragments like My Reading Habits Can Be Aptly Labeled “All Or Nothing”: the Urban Fantasy Edition, Commitment Issues (or: a Tiny Section of a Long List of Series I’ve Started and Never Finished), and the upcoming Yamamori Mika and the Case of the Awesome Characters in Not-So-Awesome Situations. (THEY’RE SO LONG THEY EVEN GET THEIR OWN LINES I CAN’T BELIEVE) I have a problem.
  • (/whispers/ this is actually Aerou’s quasi-second anniversary? As in: Aerou’s been around since at least 2016, and roughly summer of 2015, I’d say? Or maybe even 2014, but I honestly don’t quite remember – the server I was hosted on abruptly shut down, and I was a dumbass who forgot to back up her stuff properly, so if you click way back now, my earliest post shows up as my review of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone – the earliest post I could retrieve, posted on August 16th, 2017, and thus Aerou’s new quasi-birthday. So technically, Aerou’s fifth anniversary is sometime this year, but Aerou-since-switching-servers, and Saved-Data-Aerou’s only two years old. Semantics?)

In the coming years, too, I hope I can continue with Aerou and hopefully, year by year, this list of facts/superlatives can grow and grow!

One little step at a time 🙂