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The Sea of Stars

Water-stained pages, pebbles and traces of stardust

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Book Review - The Wake, Dance With The Devil and Doreen
Forget Growing Up - enhancedminds
I've recently finished reading three books and I realise they all have the same theme: loss (whether temporary or permanent) of a child. But before I get into those, a quick word about KareKano.

I first encountered this series in 2001 in my first year at uni. I saw all the anime and then started collecting the manga. Every time I was in London, I would go to Blackwells on Charing Cross Road and buy another volume. Then they disappeared so I had to buy them off Amazon. I just finished reading the last volume. I'm so sad because it feels like the end of my adolescence. I can't believe it's finally over. I'm really happy that we found out what happened to all the characters, even though the story seemed to run out of steam once Arima's family problems were resolved. I honestly think the Arimas may give the Sohmas a run for their money as Manga's Most Dysfunctional Family. Not joking.

I'm still a little iffy about Yukino's pregnancy. I mean, I'm happy that everyone supported her, I just find it a little hard to believe that Yukino, who was always so focused on her career, secretly wanted to be a housewife. The doctor dream, I could buy. The housewife part... not so much. Of course she wanted the baby, but it's not the same thing. I actually screamed out loud when I read that Soichiro had been shot. "WHAT? NO, YOU CAN'T DO THAT!" What a fake out! I had to run around the flat just to express my relief. I might honestly have thrown the volume across the room if he had died. Thank goodness it was just Yukino and Asapin playing games.

Speaking of which... SAKURA AND ASAPIN. WTF, Tsuda?! This was the weakest part of the storyline for me. Suddenly shoehorning in Asapin's bad family life (not another neglected childhood *rolls eyes*) so that we'd feel sorry for him was bad enough, but then his sudden 'intuition' that Yukino and Arima's baby would be his soulmate? UM NO. JUST NO. CREEPY AND WRONG. At least he felt weird about it in the flashforward but STILL.CREEPY. And Yukino encouraging her daughter? WTF?!!! They must see these things differently in Japan. I'm still not over Risa and Terada in Card Captor Sakura BEING ENGAGED.

Nine years and I've finally finished. No more Kare Kano. No more Fruits Basket. Anybody got a good manga series to recommend?

The Wake by Jeremy Page. "You remember the things you save. You cannot forget the things you lose." Guy lives on a Dutch houseboat. Every evening he writes his diary. But it is not a diary of his current life. It is a diary of his life as it should be: with his wife by his side and his child alive and well. The exotic journey he imagines for himself in the USA contrasts strongly with his cold, salty day-to-day existence as he sails beside East Anglia, but how long can this double life continue? Tantalised by the possibility of a future with Marta, haunted by his past (and maybe his daughter), Guy must find a way to come to terms with his grief. This book is beautifully written. It is excellent at how grief pervades all corners of life and how some people cling to grief because it is all they know.

Dance With The Devil by David Bagby. Non-fiction (oh, you'll wish it were fiction before the end). If you have seen the film A Letter To Zachary, this is essential reading. For those who have not yet seen this film, this book is about a truly mindboggling real life miscarriage of justice. It is about Andrew Bagby, a promising doctor and a decent man, who was shot in cold blood. The prime suspect, his ex-girlfriend Shirley Turner, fled the USA and returned to her home in Newfoundland. Andrew's parents, barely functioning through the shock and grief of losing their only son in this way, were then confronted with the news that Shirley was pregnant with Andrew's son. They packed up their entire lives and moved to Newfoundland in order to make sure the only remaining piece of Andrew left in the world was not left alone when (surely 'when') Shirley went to jail. But the process of extradition was agonisingly slow. Shirley was set free on bail and the Bagbys were then locked into a sickening process of having to share custody of their only grandchild with the woman who had, in all probability, murdered their son. The Canadian social services did not seem to see this as wrong or dangerous, despite the fact that Shirley was wanted in the USA for pre-mediated murder. For a while, this warped arrangement worked, as the Bagbys suppressed their revulsion for the sake of Zachary and cherished every moment they spent with him. And then the unthinkable happened: Shirley drowned Zachary and herself. Out of this horrible tragedy came the film and this book, which puts a clear and unarguable case for the change of law regarding bail of suspects accused of murder.

Doreen by Barbara Noble. 1941. London is being bombed every night by the Luftwaffe. It is becoming clear to Mrs Rawlings that she cannot in all good conscience let her daughter, Doreen, keep living with her. Forced to admit that the child would be safer in the countryside, she arranges a private evacuation with Helen Osborne, who works in the office that she cleans every morning. Doreen is sent to stay with Helen's brother and sister-in-law. Unable to have children of their own, Geoffrey and Frances are keen to help. Doreen's arrival in the household is a turning point in both her life and theirs. Accustomed to a dingy flat and the urban landscape of East London, Doreen blossoms in the countryside, becoming more and more attached to the Osbornes and their middle-class life, to her mother's dismay. But what is really best for Doreeen? Noble examines each character with clarity and sensitivity. Nobody is a villain or a hero and that there are no simple answers.

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You know, I second the Emma rec. I think the art was gorgeous and the stories were touching - not just the main one, but all the little side ones, and it's set in London, England, so I think you'll get a kick out of it, Star-chan.

Not a fan of Nodame. I thought it was cute, but it just never clicked with me. Maybe as an anime it would be better, but as a manga, about music, I thought it was lacking... if not a little bit boring. I finished all of it, but most times I was not that into it.

While I like Please Save My Earth, I'd not rec it since it's more of a guilty pleasure for me. Nana, is also a guilty pleasure for me, but since it's newer, I'd probably rec it... and it's the author of ParaKiss, so I guess I'm a bit prejudice in this. The art is alright and the story is angst for Please Save My Earth... sometimes seemingly for the purpose of angst. It worked for it, but I don't know if it works for some people. You might like it, the romance story in it is interesting. Come on, elianthos, if you were creeped out by Asapin's story, you should be a little bit creeped out by Please Save My Earth's one. Granted, the age difference is way better, but you know... not to give anything away, it was still... uh... not normal. Which is what makes it interesting, sure... but the age issues are still there.

Concerning new ones... Claymore, as an action/adventure is AMAZING... so far. Since it's not completely, it's hard to say how it will go but the art grew on me, the gore wasn't as bad as some of the other popular shounen I've seen. The female characters are definitely extremely interesting, and for once, focus is more on the girls than the guys. That's what I like about Claymore.

One Piece is hilarious and beautiful story telling. The art can take some time to get use to, but it really fits. I think it's my favorite incomplete right now, and has been for some time.

Chrono Crusade is also a favorite. You'll love this one! The art is gorgeous, the story's funny and sad and full of action and adventure. I didn't think I'd like this story, but I was really surprised by it. It's set in 1920s U.S. and it is FANTASTIC. <3

Skip Beat, another very popular incomplete is also extremely funny and it has romance in it. I really like the main character, who had me rolling around, laughing many times. I had to find better translations since the first ones I saw were bad and nearly made me drop the series, but I'm glad I went back to it.

Here's something I have to say about D. Gray Man. The art is FANTASTIC. The story was really good. I liked it... but I would not rank it as the most engaging action/adventure manga out there. Some times, I feel the story drags a little, but that could be just the effect of splicing in anime some times and the anime, to me, definitely drags. It's weird, or I'm weird. In this case though, the manga is definitely better, IMO.

oh, are you recing Kanata Kara? I'll second that! It's a great little manga that's not as famous as those in its genre. It's a shame, because like elianthos said, the girl is not annoying and the story is way more believable and interesting.

Here's a few I didn't see mentioned, but I could just have missed the link: Aishiteruze Baby, and Cat Street. Those two are more along the KareKano/Fruit Basket route with the focus more shoujo/josei. There's more romance too, but I like the stories because they're actually really nice character focused pieces. You know, They Too Love, for some reason, also gave me the KareKano vibe. There's more but I totally forgot the names for some of the ones I really liked...

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