Posted in Discussions, Personal Blogs

Looking Back on “The Sheep Look Up” by John Brunner During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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I know we’re only halfway through 2020, however, with everything that’s been going on in the world lately, I found it hard not to look back on When the Sheep Look Up by John Brunner. I reviewed this realistic post-apocalyptic novel last year and such aspects that have stuck with me are how everyone in the novel is wearing gas masks, the water is polluted, and there is general unrest amongst the civilians.

With the fear of COVID-19 hanging heavy in the air, most people are sheltering in their homes and leaving the house only if they have to. I know gas masks and protective face masks aren’t the same, but I don’t think that matters in the grand scheme of things.

To make a seemingly tense and stressful situation worse, we are again reminded of the gross mishandling of police officers who have a record of valid complaints. If a police officer has a complaint filed, I think it should be investigated through an unbiased third party. No police officer should have exessive complaints that have been swept under the rug. Just because he has “connections” or is a “good ole boy” makes this unfair to the people they’re sworn to protect.

People are upset. With COVID-19 being the biggest pandemic since the Spanish Flu, and witnessing our own government’s and to a certain extent, our society’s lack of trust of the scientists made this more deadly than it needed to be. The economy and unemployment rates are the worst they’ve been, and we’re still witnesses to police brutality. Everyone is on edge. It’s the perfect deadly stew for public unrest.

We need justice, we need peace, and until then, stay safe and don’t do anything stupid. If you want to read my thoughts on The Sheep Look Up Click Here to read my review!

Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

REVIEW: Zodiac P.I. Vol. 1 (Zodiac P.I. #1) by Natsumi Andō

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*No Major Spoilers*

Lili is just like any other girl — except she can foretell the future! This ‘Zodiac PI’ relies on horoscopes and astrology to help her solve crimes and track down criminals. When there’s trouble brewing, she transforms herself into the magic Detective Spica and looks to the stars to guide her way. Before long, she is joined by her childhood friend, Hiromi, who dreams of becoming a detective as skilled as Detective Spica. Soon, no astral investigation is too arduous for this dynamic duo!

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I originally found this manga at a convention I attended a couple of years ago. It caught my eye because the subject matter was something I think everyone becomes interested in at some point in their lives. Combining this with the mystery genre was something I thought would be interesting. Now let’s see if the stars align for Zodiac P.I. 

This manga was a fun read. I found the two mysteries featured in this volume to be intriguing. The first one surrounds the mysterious death of one of Lili’s classmates. The other is Lili going undercover to investigate this piano school rumored to be haunted. However, ghosts are the least of Lili’s worries once one of the teachers turns up dead in his own classroom.

Lili uses the magical power of a Zodiac ring her mother gave her before she disappeared. This ring brings forth the entities of the Zodiac to give her the victim’s horoscope for the day that they died, and the ominous messages help Lili solve the case as Detective Spica.

After the piano school case, Hiromi discovers Lili is actually Detective Spica. We then learn that Lili’s mom was the original Detective Spica before her disappearance. Now that her secret identity has been revealed, Hiromi promises to not reveal Lili’s secret and help her out with future cases.

As much as I want to nitpick this manga to death, I know it’s meant for a younger audience. I still had fun reading this story. The use of the Zodiac and the victim’s horoscope add a new element to old fashioned sleuthing. I would recommend this manga series for lovers of mysteries, Zodiac, and female heroines. This is a series I hope to be revisiting in the future.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Personal Blogs

Happy Memorial Day!

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I hope everyone has a safe and happy Memorial Day! I know times are insane right now, but I have hope that things will get better one day.

I hope to be spending the day reading, or trying to get my mental health under control. Looking for a job in the middle of a worldwide pandemic is making things ridiculous. The only thing I can focus on now are things that are in my control.

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Posted in Discussions, Personal Blogs

DISCUSSION: Are Video Games Getting Easier, or Am I Getting Better?

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With video game companies cashing in on the nostalgia by remaking, remastering, or rebooting beloved franchises. Or in terms of long-lived series such as Pokemon, continuing a series that is loved by so many. This trend made me wonder, are games getting easier?

I wasn’t a video game nerd growing up, the only games I played were Pokemon, the Mario & Luigi series, and other mismatched games. One of the spinoffs I love is the Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon series. I was so excited when they remade the first game, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team as Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX. I bought it as soon as it came out for the Nintendo Switch.

Now, I remember Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team being quite difficult growing up, and as I’m playing this remake I haven’t been having many troubles other than getting buttons confused, but that comes with the territory. I quickly noticed how easy this game is now. Unless I haven’t hit the difficulty spike, I’ve had little to no problems working my way through the game.

So this begs the question, did they make this game easier or did I just get better at strategy games overall? Well, in my opinion, I think I just got better by playing more strategy games such as Octopath TravelerChocobo’s Mystery Dungeon, and all of the later entries in the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series. I think with time, and experience with other video games of the same genre, I might just have a better grasp on how to play the game than when I was a kid.

However, I’d like to hear your opinion! Do you think video game companies are making video games easier, or do you think you’ve just gotten better at playing the games?

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Posted in Discussions, Personal Blogs

Mental Health and Quarantine

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Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

Here is a small life update about things going on behind the scenes. If you follow me on social media I have been absorbed in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The screenshots from the more memorable moments in the game have been a majority of my Twitter posts.

As much as I’ve wanted to discuss my thoughts and feelings of the game on my blog, I know no one wants to hear more about this game that has basically taken over the Internet while the world is basically falling apart due to the pandemic. So I will just quickly dedicate a paragraph or two before going into my mental health updates.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a game where you build and create your own remote island. You basically start off in a tent, and you have to fish, catch bugs, and harvest fruit for you to upgrade to a house. Visiting friends’ islands helps, but it is not necessary to progress. So if you’re a loner like me, I have been getting everything upgraded just fine.

I am unashamed to say that I have put a lot of time into this game. It’s been a good way for me to spend time with one of my best friends who I haven’t seen in a long time. We’ve been having fun helping each other out with making our islands the best they can be. However, now that his work is ramping back up and he’s an essential worker he’s not going to be spending much time as he had been.

Other than Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I have been battling the ups and downs of depression. Mostly just the downs. I can usually tell when I’m having a down spell because I start sleeping more and not eating much. So we’ll see how things go from here, I’ve left some toxic Facebook groups and started listening to the podcasts I had stopped listening to. As well as doing puzzles and playing some enjoyable games.

I ordered some Doctor Who books to add to my collection. ThriftBooks is a really good place to get good quality second-hand books for a reasonable price. I’m not sponsored by them, I’m just a loyal customer who loves their services.

Well, since May is quickly approaching, let’s see how things go. I just hope things only improve from here.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Magnificent Monsters of Cedar Street by Lauren Oliver

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*No Major Spoilers*

Cordelia Clay loves the work she and her father do together: saving and healing the remarkable creatures around Boston at the end of the nineteenth century. Their home on Cedar Street is full to the brim with dragons, squelches, and Diggles, and Cordelia loves every one of them.

But their work must be kept secret—others aren’t welcoming to outsiders and immigrants, so what would the people of Boston do to the creatures they call “monsters”?

One morning, Cordelia awakens to discover that her father has disappeared—along with nearly all the monsters.

With only a handful of clues and a cryptic note to guide her, Cordelia must set off to find out what happened to her father, with the help of her new friend Gregory, Iggy the farting filch, a baby dragon, and a small zuppy (zombie puppy, that is).

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First off, I’d like to say, if you are a fan of the monsters and creatures in the Harry Potter universe, this theme gets expanded tenfold. Even though most monsters are only mentioned in passing, I feel this monster-filled world is just as fleshed out as in Harry Potter.

To imagine our world is filled with creatures that are only featured in mythology and fairy tales reminds me of the Pokemon video games, just without the animal abuse. The world feels so strange and alien since Cordelia was sheltered growing up in a house full of monsters.

One small nitpick I had early on was the similarities between the father and daughter’s names. I had to go back and reread sections because I got the two mixed up. Although to make up for it, I’m impressed at how the author gets us to bond with Cordelia and Cornelius and makes the disappearance more impactful without wasting our time.

As Cordelia’s search for her father and the monsters continues, I love all of the hijinx and misadventures the characters get into. In one case, Cordelia finds herself at a traveling circus that boasts a freak show of monsters. For Cordelia to think this circus as her monsters almost instantly, shows how young and somewhat immature she is.

I love the ending of this story, it wrapped everything up all nice and neat. Everyone learned from the struggles faced on the adventures shows through. Even Cornelius learns from his mistakes and moves on from the loss of his wife. So if you’re looking for a novel with a happy ending, you’ll find it here.

Although I know this is a children’s chapter book, I feel the issues discussed are appropriate for all ages. Friendship, racism, and growing up in a world that looks down upon the “lesser than”. Big issues discussed in appropriate ways.

I would recommend this for lovers of fantasy, monsters, and a coming of age story that’s worth the read. The Monsters of Cedar Street is a fun read for readers of all ages.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

REVIEW: BEASTARS: Vol. 1 by Paru Itagaki

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*No Major Spoilers*

At this high school, instead of jocks and nerds, the students are divided into predators and prey.

At a high school where the students are literally divided into predators and prey, it’s personal relationships that maintain the fragile peace. Who among them is a Beastar—an academic and social role model destined to become a leader in a society naturally rife with mistrust?

Last night at Cherryton Academy, an herbivore student was killed and eaten. Among the members of the drama club, the herbivores’ suspicions naturally turn to their carnivore classmates… The prime suspect? Legosi, a large wolf. But he wouldn’t hurt a fly—or would he? And will dwarf rabbit Haru bring out the beast in him? Or are his feelings for her…something else?

BEASTARS has been a series I’ve been wanting to get into, however, since the world has ADHD it’s taken me a bit longer than it should have to give this manga a chance. Now with season one of BEASTARS on Netflix, I feel like now is the time to check this exciting series out.

First off, the art style is interesting. It looks like it was painted in watercolors (but of course it’s in black and white). There’s so much detail in each and every character I found it beautiful even though I’m not a fan of watercolor-like styles. The artist definitely took his time to study each animal the characters are based on.

This story touches similar themes that Zootopia touches on, racism in the fact that the carnivores are segregated from the herbivores. Now in Zootopia, they put this in an easy to understand way for children to follow and understand. BEASTARS discusses this in a more grown-up and blatant way. There’s even segregation amongst the carnivores themselves. I like stories that take on social issues, without it taking over the entire story.

Legosi is a character I can relate to an extent. He’s awkward and introverted. He is mourning the loss of his friend while everyone is secretly suspecting him of the crime because he is a wolf. This affects his emotions throughout the story.

The title Beastar is something that is given to one of the animals, much like a class president except it encompasses a whole generation of students. So there’s this popular student, Louis, and everyone is expecting him to become the Beastar. Watching him struggle to rehearse for the play that the drama club is about to put on after an injury makes you realize just how much is at stake in his world.

Overall, I really enjoyed BEASTARS. The story is well written, the art is beautiful to look at, and I can’t wait to continue this series in the future. I will also be reviewing BEASTARS on Netflix soon, so stay tuned for that!

I would recommend this series who love animals, societal issues, low-key mysteries, a slice of life, and looking for something new to read.

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