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B. Wang "ardea alba" RSS Feed (Dallas, TX)

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‘oku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 3
‘oku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 3
by Fumi Yoshinaga
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.96
58 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Made me cry so hard, December 9, 2014
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All I have to say is, I don't think I have seen a better love story portrayed in any piece of fiction, whether it be book, movie, manga, comic, play, musical...

My other reviews on this site tend to be more calm, detailed, and analytical, and I'm really not given to superlatives, but this one just has to be gushy, the feels.

Dragon Age Inquisition - Standard Edition - PlayStation 4
Dragon Age Inquisition - Standard Edition - PlayStation 4
Price: $19.32
208 used & new from $8.50

146 of 164 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughts after one playthrough - It's like fried rice, December 2, 2014
I just finished my first playthrough (female elf rogue) and starting a second one (female human mage). Some thoughts:

I feel like this game is like fried rice, in that it gets better the second time around--Fried rice is actually better as leftovers than when fresh. My first time going through the game, I was constantly torn between being completionist and just advancing the story and knowing what happens. I did not look it up online because I didn’t want to spoil myself. This second time around, I am taking my time and pausing to enjoy all the little details the devs put in the world of Thedas.

Because it’s all in the details: I am talking to an elven mage researcher and find out that she is not all that great of a fighter and prefers the company of Tranquils. Josephine knows (of) my family and is relieved to hear someone else (me) say that Haven is a freezing dump. The sunlight shifts like a kaleidoscope when you look up through the leaves of a tree in the Hinterlands. The color and texture of the belt buckle and buttons change depending on what metals you’re using to craft the armor.


Unfortunately I find the main storyline lackluster. It’s not a bad story, just not quite up to what Bioware is capable of. The villain is one-dimensional and, I don’t know, just not COOL enough. The Archdemon is a one-dimensional villain too, but it has style, it is majestic, it has rich lore and legend behind it. This villain is none of those things. Really it seems like he could’ve been a mission on my War Table for one of my underlings to take care of.

Consequently, the ending is anticlimactic. Maybe the devs got lost in the details and neglected the forest for the trees? I took my time getting ready for the final battle, making sure I did all my Companion quests, fully upgrading potions and gear, tying up other loose ends so that my final save right before picking the final Operation will be just perfect. Then, I walk to the War Room, heart pounding just like when I embarked on the Suicide Mission in Mass Effect 2…

[8 minutes later]. “Uh, really…? That’s it?” Even the post-final-battle chat with your Party members, so emotionally charged and significant and bittersweet in Origins, here it was like, “That’s all you have to say to me? After everything we’ve been through together?” One of your post-final-battle conversations is literally just about the catering.


I love that they all have different personalities. I love that some get on my nerves and so I would never put them in my party, while others I really enjoy having around. I also love how the party members form friendships and relationships amongst themselves. It’s not everybody all about the hero all the time. This is what it’s like when you’re around real people.

On the other hand, I wasn’t all that impressed with the romance scenes in this movie. With the exception of a couple, the rest seem cheesy. The lighthearted romance scenes are better than the serious ones. Out of the serious-toned ones, I don’t know that any matched up to the Rival Anders and Rival Fenris romance scenes in DA2. Also, without going into spoilers, playing the Dragon Age series has taught me a life lesson, that apparently I pick the wrong guys…

I also don’t know how I feel about the fact that when you’re doing main storyline events, party members lose and gain Approval rating regardless of whether they’re currently with you or back at the base. On the one hand it makes more sense (what, they’re NOT going to find out about what you did when everyone’s talking about it?). On the other hand it makes it harder to manage a party member’s Approval rating, especially since you can’t actually SEE what it is. I also don’t like that it’s not like DA2, where once they reach maximum Friendship or Rivalry, you can do or say whatever the heck you want and it won’t change their rating anymore. Here, if you reach the max they stop gaining Approval rating, but they don’t stop losing it. I find myself not activating Solas artifacts and making a note of where they are, so that I can gain back some lost ground when I keep doing things that makes him hate me.


Combat is not the central part of the game to me. I play Bioware games for the story and characters, so I view combat as mostly something to “get through” or a change of pace from the go-fetch quests and the endless collections (bottles, songs, mosaics, shards...). That being said, I do have fun with it. Now, I rarely mess with the tactical camera. My Hold Position function seems to be hopelessly bugged (as in, I select the Hand icon for Hold Position aaaaaaand, they don’t hold position). But luckily the AI seems to do a good job and I’m not an elitist who has to play on Nightmare.

I enjoy playing ranged in this game way more than melee, because as others have pointed out, you have to manually run into range, and then manually attack… Which, with all the charge/evade/teleport abilities that enemies also have, you can run around the battlefield the whole time and not get to hit a thing. Archer Rogue is a lot of fun and that’s what I recommend.

Sidenote, Vivienne’s Knight-Enchanter specialty tree is seriously overpowered.

1) Take a full-melee party to any High Dragon and just have her spam Spirit Blade on the dragon to keep up the Barrier on herself continuously. If dragon’s about to hit her directly, she conveniently has this 2-second immunity ability on a ridiculously short CD.
2) Drop a Barrier on the rest of your party every time CD is up (since your party is melee, they’re conveniently all grouped up and in range).
3) Profit.

ENVIRONMENT: Gorgeous. Nothing others haven’t already said.


I hate the “spam button to Search” feature. You have to constantly press it as it only goes out in a certain radius around you. Fine. But what annoys me is you hear the pinging, and you look 360 degrees around you and you don’t see anything highlighted. So now you’re thinking gosh what am I missing out on?? Most of the time it’s just an Elfroot on a mountain ledge above your head. I really think they should have a setting where you can make it so that it ONLY PINGS when there’s codex entries/mosaic pieces/other collectibles in range, and not yet another Iron node, Spindleweed, or ladder.

Which brings me to the terrain. I find myself hoping for flying mounts because of those gosh darn mountains. I get it devs: You added jumping, you’re very proud of it. But it’s immensely frustrating to drop a Waypoint, see that it’s waaaaay up on this mountain slope, and can’t find a way to get up there. At some point in the Hinterlands, Varric said something like, “Is some flat terrain too much to ask for?” MY SENTIMENTS EXACTLY, Varric. Can we please have some Great Plains? Rolling prairies? Does EVERY SINGLE ZONE have to be mountainous? Forbidden Oasis, I hate you so much.

Why can’t I equip items as I’m looking through my inventory while interacting with a merchant? If it looks good I can put it on, if not I sell. Instead, I have to open up Inventory separately, decide what I want to wear/sell, and THEN interact with the merchant.

Also, why can’t I compare the item I’m about to craft to item currently equipped by me and my party? Instead I have to make it first, exit out of Craft Weapon/Armor, pull up my Inventory, scroll up/down to the party member I’m making it for… Then to find out what they have equipped is better and I’ve just wasted these ingredients.

Why is Creature Research items placed in the same folder as the vendor fodder “Valuables”? What’s the point of a Sell-All button if I still have to be careful not to sell the Creature Research items in there?


I have experienced a lot of the other bugs that others have talked about. The conversation freezing up and having to skip lines to advance through the scene. The blacksmith not being at his spot in Haven even though the subtitles show his lines. One time a regular mob became utterly immune and I had to run halfway across the Hinterlands before I dropped combat (can’t Travel when in combat). Yeah yeah, but I think in a game this big, you’re going to get bugs. No one is perfect. I save often so that hopefully I won’t face down a scenario where I have to start all over.

But that brings me to this: WHY ONLY 25 SAVES ALLOWED??? Why do you care how many Saves I have, EA? Jeez, I’m not asking to store them on your CEO’s personal hard drive or something. And why can’t I name my Saves? Am I supposed to just remember what all the “Skyhold – XX:XX” saves are? (I like to talk to Companions in waves and experience their conversation all at once, and I make saves before each wave)


I liked the soundtracks in all 3 games, and I think this one is the best. Sorry Inon Zur. The D-minor main theme gives me chills. So did the sweeping crescendo in Journey to Skyhold (did that part remind anyone else of Lord of the Rings?) The violin ostinato of the Elder One theme is deliciously evil-sounding, with a touch of melancholy.

And finally, a post script – This is a little thing and bugs me probably more than it should: So, on the cover art, you see the Inquisitor holding his sword in his left hand and reaching up to the Breach with the Mark in his RIGHT hand. Well, in the game, your Mark is on your LEFT hand.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 28, 2015 10:01 AM PDT

Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream
Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream
by Adam Shepard
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.38
197 used & new from $0.01

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for enjoyment. 3 stars for the message, May 22, 2014
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...Therefore, 4 stars.

I like what the author did. I think it's a step in the right direction. Yes, the parameters of his experiment are not perfect, but he fully admits all the limitations.

(Kindle location 3493): "For starters, I realized that we are the product of our surroundings." That is why he concedes: "Now, more than ever, I understand that that things could have been much different for me in my life. I was lucky." (location 3497). There was another reviewer that criticized the fact that the author didn't even go very far from home to do his experiment. But the author explains why: his parents' poor health means he needed to stay close in case there was a medical emergency, which did in fact occur. He also recognizes: "Can you imagine the results if I had done my project anywhere else in the world?"

I found myself laughing out loud at some parts. The description of how the guys at the homeless shelter watches the show "Cops" comes to mind. That and Sergeant Mendoza checking himself out of the hospital "Armageddon style." I cheered inwardly when he told off the lady at the baby clothes store and when a fellow shelter resident critiqued the other guys' job-searching strategy ("How do you think this works? Employers call the number you put on that application and when Harold answers 'Crisis Ministries' they just get real excited that they get to hire a homeless dude? S*** man, y'all some dumb muthas.") And I was intrigued by tidbits of information like, lunch being the best meal of the day at the shelter because it has the most variety; there's free newspaper on the bus in the mornings; they buy bootleg DVDs to supplement the disappointing TV channel selection.

So I did enjoy the book, and no doubt the author powered through his 10-month experiment with better spirits and determination than what a lot of other people might have had. But the constant interjections of relentlessly peppy "I can do it, you can too!!!" did get quite cloying after a while.

Because here's the main problem I see and please, those who have been there, correct me if I'm wrong. The author says people need to stop blaming others for their problems (my parents never taught me any better; I keep getting crazy and unreasonable bosses and that's why I can't hold down a job; etc), and start taking control of what they CAN control. I don't disagree with this.

However, I think the main difference is not that the author has a lot of superhuman willpower and poor people don't. The main difference is that the author ALWAYS KNEW HIS SITUATION IS TEMPORARY, no matter what he did. And poor people usually don't and can't know that. I think a lot of the time, when something is all you've known, whether it's poverty or wealth, you become blind to everything else and think this state is permanent. I've never been poor, but the best personal analogy I can think of is when I first came to this country and didn't speak a word of English. The first few months were tough, because it felt like I could NEVER learn the language. No matter how many vocabulary words I memorized, I still didn't understand 2 out of every 10 words anyone said. Now, intellectually I did know that eventually I would become fluent, and knowing that has helped a lot in terms of ginning up the motivation to reach for that English-Chinese dictionary yet again. But when it felt like English was simply impossible to learn? Yeah my motivation and drive were in the toilet.

Hope matters. An end in sight and light at the end of the tunnel matter. I'm glad the author didn't just sit on his middle-class couch and do nothing. I also believe that he did learn a lot of good things from his experience and there are a lot of good things to be learned from his experience. But his method is not going to work for other people without changing their outlook first.

All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan
All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $11.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Versatile and Sustainable "Diet" for your Finances; Nonjudgmental, Specific, Practical Advice, May 6, 2014
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I won’t rehash the basic premise of the book because it’s already been covered by a lot of reviewers. Instead I’ll just talk about some rationalizations I came up with while reading the book and trying to “debunk” it. (As a side note, I am lucky that I am in great shape financially, but this book definitely gave me some rules to live by).

--“But there’s no way I can cut down my Must-Haves. I already signed contracts to pay $XXXX per month on my house/car/insurance/daycare/college tuition before I found this book.”

The book suggests: 50-30-20 is a goal. If you can’t cut it quite down to 50%, how about 54%? 58%? Basically do the best you can. Shop for a better deal on your current arrangements. Think of it as your ideal weight. If you weigh 250 pounds and your goal weight is 180 pounds, nobody’s asking you to drop 70 pounds overnight.

Also, the book advises that it is not worth your time to obsess about the pennies because 1) you literally don’t have the time to be constantly vigilant about every single thing you spend money on, and 2) you’ll get more results faster if you focus on the big-ticket items. For example, this book recommends that we shop carefully for a better deal on our mortgage, car payments, health insurance payments—Big-ticket items that account for the biggest portions of our spending. And this book has a lot of specific advice on exactly how to do that and what to look for (How many “points” and extra fees is hidden in the mortgage fine print? Is there a “balloon payment”? Is there a prepayment penalty? Is there/how much is the commission paid to the mortgage broker? Etc.). Yes it takes a lot of work (Get at least 5 quotes from different companies! READ all the fine print again the day of the closing, because a lot of companies try to sneak something in there on the day of, in hopes that you’ll just assume you’re getting the same deal and sign without looking). It sounds like a huge pain in the butt, and I admit my eyes did glaze over a bit during some parts, but one should spend time doing this rather than stressing out over how many times one eats out or goes to Starbucks. Literally, more bang for your buck. Also unlike the penny-pinching way of trying to save money where you have to pay attention to it constantly, once you get a better deal that will save you money, say on your mortgage, you will automatically pay less for your mortgage every month, which means you will AUTOMATICALLY save money every month.

--“But I’ll never reach the goals described in this book. It’s just not possible.”

Book says: Doing anything is better than nothing. There are 5280 feet in a mile and 2352425312531 drops of water in the ocean and all that. Just get started and each step will make the next a little bit easier. The process is about gradual improvement, not overnight miracle makeovers.

--“But *I*’m good with money. It’s my spouse/boyfriend/partner who’s the bum that blows all our money on stuff we don’t need.”

Great, you’re a saint. Now what? Does placing blame put more money in your pocket or make creditors go away? No. This book says: Do what YOU can do. Try to get your spouse on board with small specific things – “Let’s put $50 a week in the bank” rather than “hand over 20% of your paycheck now!”

--“But the advice in the book doesn’t apply to me, because it’s for people who don’t have a sudden layoff/sick relative who needs round the clock care/spouse who walked out on me/Other sudden life emergencies.”

This book has a whole separate chapter on what to do in financial emergencies – “Financial CPR.” The 50-30-20 balance plan is the goal for the rest of the time. This chapter also has very specific advice such as exactly how to deal with creditors (try to work out a plan, threaten bankruptcy if necessary, and GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING). Speaking of which… Don’t feel bad about filing bankruptcy. “If you find yourself considering bankruptcy, reflect on the fact that most of those lenders knew you would have a tough time paying them back. They had your credit reports. They knew how much money you earned, and they knew how much you owed. They took a calculated risk.”

--“But the advice in this book is common-sense. I mean, duh. Save money? Live within your means? I can’t believe the authors are making money on advice I’ve already figured out for myself.”

If it’s so common-sense, then why has bankruptcy rates soared in just 30 or 40 years? Even a decade ago when this book was written, it is citing some chilling statistics: 1 in 7 families in deep financial trouble. More people file bankruptcy per year than get divorced, graduate from college, or get cancer. Knowing the stuff in this book in theory is one thing, practicing it is something else.

Misc highlights in the book I found most memorable:

“Do not judge how you or your spouse spends Want money.”
-- This book is big on no-judgment, guilt-free spending on Wants. Extra savings above 20% is a Want. Gambling in Vegas is also a Want. As long as you have first figured out how much is left over after Must-Haves and Savings are taken care of, spend those leftovers on absolutely whatever you want. Because just like people can't keep up a completely spartan diet with no chocolate, steak, or cupcakes allotment whatsoever, a completely spartan budget is also not sustainable. If you have steely superhuman willpower, then great. But most people myself included need some chocolate every now and then.

“Renting is not necessarily bad” - You didn’t get nothing out of paying rent. You got a roof over your head. Are you slowly becoming the owner of the grocery store and power plant when you buy food and pay your electric bill every month? It’s much better to wait until you actually build up enough savings to buy a house and rent in the meantime. If you buy before you can actually afford it, the higher interest rate and fees will make you pay MANY TIMES MORE than if you wait. Way more than any equity that you can build up in the meantime.

“Equity loans are NOT a good way to consolidate debt, even though it has lower interest rate than credit cards.” Because if you default on your credit card balance, they can’t take your house. Banks aren't offering lower interest rate on equity loans because they're nice.

“Think of a contingency plan BEFORE something bad happens.” People get CPR certification before they become a lifeguard. They don’t stand in front of an unconscious drowning person and flip furiously through a manual for CPR instructions. Think of what you will cut ahead of time and review every year.

Bottom line, I think this book has great advice that applies to pretty much everyone. If it doesn't apply to you because you're not in financial trouble, great! Doesn't mean it's wrong. I'm not in trouble but I still found it instructive. I just happened to already be following the advice in the book, albeit inadvertently. I plan to follow it advertently from now on.

Dragon Age: The Masked Empire
Dragon Age: The Masked Empire
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $9.99

25 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eh...if you like the game, you're gonna get this book no matter what I say, but..., April 10, 2014
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If you, like me, are dying of impatience for Inquisition and crying tears of blood for the lack of even a release date, then you will get this book. For something, anything, just a little taste... That's probably why you got the last book, Asunder.

Anyway, the Masked Empire expands upon some offhand mentions in Asunder of the power struggle in Orlais between the Empress Celene and her cousin Grand Duke Gaspard (not to be confused for Gascard Dupuis that poor side quest guy in DA2). This is not a spoiler because it's taken directly from Asunder: Gaspard lured Celene out of Val Royaux with news of an elven rebellion and then ambushed her.

Masked Empire tries to give us a view of how the infamous Game (the political intrigues between nobles is given a formal name in Orlais) is played. But lordy lordy, George RR Martin Mr. Weekes is not. His portrayal of the Game is clumsy. The maneuverings are all quite overt and obvious. He keeps going on about what certain characters can accomplish in the Game due to "years of training." And then on the very next page, that same character has given away her whole diabolical plan because she can't hide facial expressions well enough. Isn't that Political Intrigue 101? Her "years of training" didn't teach that??

The characters are one-dimensional yet at the same time, inconsistent. I can't distinguish between Celene and Briala other than one is a human and one is an elf. I find their romantic relationship flat and unconvincing because I really don't know that much about the characters and so don't much care about either of them. Celene doesn't feel like an empress at all. I mean, we are talking about a Queen Elizabeth I here--came to the throne as a teenager and rules a vast and great empire for decades. But she just came across as a mundane ordinary person, with her thoughts written plain on her face. I know she's used to always wearing a mask but come on, 20 years of being one of the Most Powerful People in Thedas ought to teach you a thing or two. I'm just not getting that from the way her character is portrayed. There is literally nothing special about her. She's just so BLAND.

But of course, if the plot has her getting into a jam that only heroics can get her out of, then the author will remind you of her "years of training" and it'll kick in just when it needs to and disappear again just as quickly.

The plot line feels very forced. The characters act in ways that seem nonsensical by any explanation other than "that's what they need to do to advance the plot". Gaspard does things that make no sense that are sometimes clumsily explained by "oh it's just the chevaliers' code of honor". After the third or fourth such explanation, I'm still having a hard time figuring out a pattern or a common vein in this code of honor. What I'm saying is that the code doesn't seem to be something thought out beforehand. It's like a magic wand: Just wave it when you need to.

I will say that this author is pretty good at writing fight scenes. I think he knows it too because once in a while he'll just throw one in. It doesn't really advance the plot, but the characters have been traipsing around for a few pages now without trouble, so it's about that time.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 14, 2014 6:16 AM PDT

BioShock Infinite Limited Edition Strategy Guide (Bradygames Strategy Guides)
BioShock Infinite Limited Edition Strategy Guide (Bradygames Strategy Guides)
by Doug Walsh
Edition: Hardcover
44 used & new from $12.77

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Concise yet comprehensive guide, March 26, 2013
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Table of Contents:

Detective Training - Basic tips like what key does what, what food items do, how to useSky Hook.

Guns of Liberty - Stats of all the weapons. Where upgrades are found. Notes on best situation to use, for example it tells you that shotgun damage decreases with distance.

Vigor - Rundown of all the Vigors aka Plasmids in the game. Tells you about the vigor combos too. I find the table with the vulnerabilities of each type of enemy to each Vigor to be really nice.

The Height of Columbia Fashion - Gear: hats and such that Booker finds throughout the game that can boost his stats. I especially like the lists of matching outfits - For example one outfit is called Sky-Line Ninja. Each outfit is meant to enhance a certain style of gameplay. Sky-Line Ninja, true to its name, enhances your attacks from the Sky-Lines.

Booker's Campaign - This is the walkthrough. It takes up about half the book.

Enemies of the People - types of enemies.

Achievements and Trophies.

About the keychain that comes with the limited edition guidebook. It is a metal key, about 4-5 inches long. It's nice but for me personally it's too big for me to use as a keychain. It's about the size of an old school car key (not one of those smaller keyless entry things) but heavier.

One pet peeve I would like to point out: Many parts of this book uses as many exclamation points as a 13-year-old girl texting! By that I mean literally every other paragraph ends with an exclamation point. That doesn't sound like much, but the paragraphs are only a couple sentences long! It does get distracting. Luckily the Walkthrough section is not plagued by this problem! Every other section is though!
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 31, 2013 9:30 AM PDT

The Tea Rose: A Novel (The Tea Rose Series)
The Tea Rose: A Novel (The Tea Rose Series)
by Jennifer Donnelly
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.85
264 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Harlequin romance with better prose, January 5, 2013
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I think people like this book for the same reason people like Twilight--It's the perfect fantasy. Young heroine with immeasurable beauty that turns eyes everywhere, charming personality that "wins over everyone she meets" (a phrase that is repeated in the book), everything she touches turns to gold, handsome men with impossibly blue eyes are head over heels for her, a rich man with a heart of pure gold fawning over her...Need I go on?

But oh the cliches! I actually closed the book in disgust at the following exchange:"The park is beautiful in the moonlight, isn't it?" "Nowhere near as beautiful as you are," said [the rich handsome man with a heart of gold].

Cliched theme number one: if you only wanted something bad enough, oh so bad, your soul screams that you want it...then it will be yours [via contrived and unrealistic plot points]. How many times has Fiona wanted something "with all her heart" "desperately", and then have her wish granted Santa-Claus style? E.g. Somebody selling a house to her at 1/10 the value? Complete strangers offering 1st class passage to her and co.?

Number two: Working class people, no matter the continent, only marry for love. Never saw an unhappy marriage anywhere amongst the working poor.

Number three: Characters are stereotypes. Stereotypes. Stereotypes. The evil evil villain of pure evil evilness. The kind-hearted fussing matron. I mean my goodness there's even a gay-best-friend character, who is of course a sweet, extremely handsome man with impeccable fashion-sense and lives only to help the heroine out.

Ehhhhh, what can I say. The author just didn't bother with any sort of verisimilitude in her characters. Drop the H's and I guess we've got ourselves a Cockney accent. That, and a lot of name-dropping of historic figures, but in a clunky and obvious way that felt like the author was going "hey look! I did my research, ok?" The main characters' views and actions were so blatantly modern and utterly anachronistic--their attitue towards sexuality and sexual preference being the most glaring example. Okay maybe the heroine is a forward-thinker 150 years ahead of her time, but everywhere she goes--New York, London, wherever--she meets people that think exactly the same way? Also, I find it very difficult to believe that someone shrewd enough to navigate amongst the very upper circles of New York's business elite after having made bajillion of dollars, could be so naive about why his grown children really don't like his girlfriend. Can I say DUH?

The Tea Rose is a fun-in-a-mindless way, lighthearted read. I can't get past the things discussed above though.

‘oku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 7
‘oku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 7
by Fumi Yoshinaga
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.99
51 used & new from $6.65

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I thought I could get over the translation but I can't..., July 25, 2012
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I read the first 6 volumes of this manga in Chinese and absolutely loved them--the history with a twist, the character development, the art, everything. I knew about the "Olde English" style translation for this series when I purchased volume 7, but I read some reviews for the previous volumes and thought I could get used to it like those reviewers did.

Alas, egad, 'tis simply too distracting, doth thou catcheth mine meaning? Even five-year-old girls say things like "I thank thee. Play with me again, prithee." I see one instance where the translators slipped, and let in a sentence such as "surely you [that's right, "you," not "thou"] cannot intend to let this fellow so easily off the hook!" But then it immediately slipped back into "one who hath sticky fingers" and "thou didst see't with thine own eyes!" If we're going for period authenticity with the archaic English style, then we need to keep out the anachronistic idiomatic expressions like "sticky fingers" and "let [...] off the hook."

The above were all exact quotes. I'm sorry. This series has great art. Great story. Excellent character development. Subtle but meaningful exploration of its themes. This series has everything going for it, and for all those things, I really tried to get over the translation style, but in the end I just couldn't...because the Olde English style is so relentless. I didn't read the Japanese version since I don't speak Japanese. Are the translators trying to preserve the original language, because the author used archaic Japanese for the original dialogue? The Chinese translation was not like this at all.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 20, 2012 9:52 AM PST

The Commander and Den Asaan Rautu (The Haanta Series Book 1)
The Commander and Den Asaan Rautu (The Haanta Series Book 1)

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ms. Franklin needs to beware of IP infringement damages..., January 26, 2012
...which can be quite hefty.

Taken from FindLaw's website:


"Courts have established a number of factors to consider in determining whether a likelihood of confusion exists, including, the strength of plaintiff's mark; the proximity of the products in the marketplace; similarity of the marks in sound, appearance and meaning; evidence of actual confusion; marketing channels used; types of products and degree of care likely to be exercised by the purchaser; defendant's intent in selecting the mark; and likelihood of expansion of the product lines."

-The strength of Plaintiff's mark - Needless to say, Bioware's Dragon Age trademark is very strong.
-The proximity of the products in the marketplace - Ms. Franklin is not a video game maker, but Bioware has published official tie-in books. For Ms. Franklin to write a book and sell it on Amazon where the kindle version of Mr. Gaider's officially sanctioned books can also be found...well "the proximity in market"--ie books-- is self-explanatory.
-Similarity of the marks - the similarities between Ms. Franklin's plagiarism and Bioware's intellectual property are so painfully obvious. I'm sorry I don't like to insult people, but you just have to be 100% clueless to NOT see the similarities.
-Marketing channels used - Amazon, Kindle e-book for both.
-Types of products and degree of care likely to be exercised by the purchaser - see above discussion. Same type of product, purchasers not likely to exercise a great degree of care, as many have already been duped.
-Defendant's intent in selecting the mark - Alistair turns into Alasdair. The Commander = warden commander. Sten's storyline--physical appearance, killing villagers, losing sword, etc. etc. This plagiarism was clearly intentional. NOTHING was original, literally nothing, other than the cringeworthy porno scenes in florid, cloying prose.

Congratulations , Ms. Franklin, please enjoy your PUNITIVE DAMAGES for willful infringement.

-Likelihood of expansion of the product lines - Bioware clearly intends to expand the dragon age product line by releasing future games. Dragon Age 2 and Dragon Age: Asunder are evidence of existing expansions.

As for copyright violations, don't even try to argue that it is "fair use". Ms. Franklin, I hope you do know that "fair use" can't be using someone else's work FOR YOUR OWN PROFIT.

A Walk Across the Sun
A Walk Across the Sun
by Corban Addison
Edition: Hardcover
125 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful story that will (hopefully) galvanize the reader into action, December 31, 2011
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This review is from: A Walk Across the Sun (Hardcover)
Mr. Addison's novel proves the wisdom of the law school lesson that storytelling is a far more powerful persuasive tool than a mere recitation of facts and numbers. His fictional account of the plight of a pair of orphaned sisters is far more moving than the statistics, shocking as they are.

I loved that the main hero is flawed. On the surface he seemed to have a charmed life: ivy league education, posh job, beautiful wife, an Audi... But he hesitates. He falters. He's not always honest and gives into temptation. He didn't start out as an idealist and a crusader. But his flaws made him so much more real, and all the more so because the same flaws can be found in practically everybody. I believed his journey and his growth, precisely because he didn't apparently come out of the womb as a knight in shining armor.

Something else that made this book so compelling was the fact that it absolutely does not allow the reader to think: "It can't happen here." Because it's human tendency to want to separate ourselves from horrible things, to convince ourselves that it can't possibly happen to us. I once heard a state prosecutor tell me that, contrary to what one might think, in prosecuting rape cases she tries to strike all the potential women jurors who are similar to the victim. Far from being more sympathetic to the victim, the more similar the female juror is to the victim, the more likely she is to blame the victim. "It must be something SHE did," the juror thinks subconsciously. "Because if it isn't, then the same thing could easily happen to me." That is an absolutely terrifying thought, and people shy from it.

Mr. Addison's book subtly dispels that sort of thinking. The sisters, Ahalya and Sita, are not poor illiterate village girls from a strictly Third World setting. Before the occurrence of the dark circumstances that funneled them into the underworld of sex trafficking, they were girls with lives that are just the same as any middle-class American girl would have had: Their father was a well-off software executive, mother a housewife. The family had beautiful beachfront property, two cars, and a full-time housekeeper. Both girls are well-read and studied the violin. If it happened to them, it can happen to anybody. I'm glad Mr. Addison's book creates the kind of fear that only comes when the danger seems right around the corner from one's own doorsteps. Because that's what it takes to move well-meaning individuals (myself included), beyond shaking our heads in shock during the time that it takes to put the book back on the shelf, and to actually DO something about it..

(a little afterthought: The idealism exhibited by the main character is admirable, and really almost necessary in this type of novel. But I can't help thinking that, although Thomas Clarke's original ambition might be mercenary in its execution--going through a Big Law career, all the office politics, boring CLE seminars, pretentious parties, insincere networking, and all that. But I honestly think he would have been in a better position to make a difference as a federal judge rather than as a legal intern at a non-profit.)

Mr. Addison includes a list of recommended reading in the afterword, but I would also recommend Half the Sky, which documents the the types of problem women around the world face, including the one so vividly painted in this book.

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