January 31, 2017

Lexy Cooper Mysteries

Filed under: Bookshelf — Tags: , — Yukino @ 9:06 PM

The mystery genre boasts a plethora of themes, from the traditional Agatha Christie to a growing number of cat inspired novels. Yes, cat mysteries, a subgenre I am not too sure I want to venture into. In a very tiny corner of this category you will find the Lexy Cooper series, inspired by author Christa Charter’s time in the video game industry and written after leaving her position as Trixie360 with Xbox.

Lexy stumbles into detective work when a body is found at the Xenon campus in Redmond. Her family friend, “Uncle” Mike Malick, is an actual detective who is called in to head up the investigation and relies on her for information about her fellow Xenon co-workers and some of the behind the scenes inteLexy Cooper Triple Threatl on the video game industry. It’s clear from the start that Lexy is infinitely more interested in her moonlighting job than the one that forces her to wear skimpy outfits and act like a fool for internet hits.

One of the main draws for me is the exaggerated for entertainment’s sake behind-the-scenes look at the video game industry and its disgusting underbelly: the treatment of women in the workplace, trading sexual favours for swag and/or advancement. In the most recent installment, Glitched, tackled events similar to the Penny Arcade Dickwolves fiasco.

But Lexy is not Nancy Drew; she’s a little crass, not above some lewd behaviour to get what she needs for her department, and has a thing with a married co-worker. She’s not perfect, and these flaws make her relatable. Hell, it still gets on my nerves that she was having an affair, because, as someone who has been cheated on, I have an extremely low tolerance for cheaters. When you can write a character that can incite these types of emotions in me, you’ve done your job wonderfully.

Lexy Cooper also has a great supporting cast: her family, her cameraman Trent and assistant TJ, her co-host “Agent 54” Henry Frasier, Malick’s team featuring officers Yi and Rogers, to name a few. Hell, there’s even a character named after me in Griefedas a thanks for backing Christa’s IndieGoGo for Book 3. So maybe I am a little biased in writing this….

If I had to compare the Lexy Cooper mysteries to something written by a mainstream author, I’d have to say Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books are the closest. There’s sex, drinking, piles of unwashed laundry, colourful characters – all the makings of a fantastic read that will end all too quickly.

To learn more about the Lexy Cooper series, you can visit the official website or check out reviews of Christa’s books, all of which are available digitally or in print form from Amazon.

*This post was previously published on The Daily Crate.

Sweet Dreams: Japanese Horror Novels

Filed under: Bookshelf — Tags: , , — Yukino @ 7:31 PM

I’m writing this piece as I watch FX’s The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.Fet is tossing Strigoi into the spinning blades of a digging machine and those squirmy white worms are flying all over the place. And beside me is a list of books I need to pick up in October, one of which is a Japanese horror novel I hadn’t realized was translated.

Halloween is in the air.

Last year I shared with you all my Top 5 Japanese Horror anime and manga, with a live action movie thrown in. This time around I thought it would be great to get you hooked on a few good books that will probably haunt your dreams a little. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be good horror stories, now would they?

koushun-takami-battle-royaleI’d seen the Battle Royale movie before finding out the book had been translated into English. I’d gone to one of the Asian movie rental stores looking for some anime when I spotted the DVD on a nearby rack. Most of you are probably familiar with the story: a class of junior high students heading out on a class trip gets redirected to a deserted island, handed weapons and forced to turn on one another until only one remains.

Why I love it: Despite the horrible circumstances these kids are thrown into, there is a small group who tries to do the right thing and searches for a way to save as many as possible. I’ve also got a real soft spot for it as the original movie introduced me to Chiaki Kuriyama, better known to most as GoGo from Kill Bill.

 

otsuichi-summer-fireworks-and-my-corpseOtsuichi was an author I discovered when Viz Media started their Haikasoru imprint. I had been sent a review copy of ZOO when the line was still new. I don’t think a short story collection had ever grabbed hold of me so fast and so hard before. The next collection, Summer, Fireworks and My Corpse, features Otsuichi’s award-winning title story as well as two short stories (Black Fairy Tale and Yoko). It’s quite unsettling to have part of a story told to the reader by the decaying corpse of a young girl accidentally killed during summer vacation. And after reading Black Fairy Tale I swear my eyeballs kept tingling for a week.

Why I love them: One of ZOO‘s short stories still sticks in my mind to this day; in Song of the Sunny Spot, the last man on earth builds an android companion to care for and bury him when the time comes. The book I mentioned before that I didn’t know was out? That would be GOTH, the original novel that the manga is based on. I’ve been waiting for Viz’s translation and somehow it slipped past me.

 

hideaki-sena-parasite-eveBefore it became a cult video game series, Parasite Eve was a Japanese horror novel about science gone wrong. If you wanted to know Eve’s origin story, this would be where you want to go. Be warned, it is very science heavy, and I did find myself getting a little lost in there, but I pushed through. Medical thriller? Check. Eve using her powers to obliterate everything in her way? Starts slow in the beginning but the payout in the end more than makes up for it.

Why I love it: The Parasite Eve games were some of the first games I played on the PS1 and so I just had to learn all I could. I found this novel a year or so after Battle Royale, right around when I learned about my next entry.

 

koji-suzuki-ringRemember when Gore Verbinski decided to do a movie about a cursed video tape and a girl climbing through TVs to kill people? I had only been on the internet for a handful of years and my Japanophile-ness was just a sapling. I recall laughing at The Ring more than anything else, but since I wanted to see the original it was back to the Asian rental store for me. Fast forward a few years and I have my job at the bookstore. The buyers saw me ordering in manga and Japanese novels and decided to send a few copies of Koji Suzuki’s Ring Trilogy over.

Why I love them: By this point in time I am head over heels for all the Japanese horror I can get my hands on. I’ve seen the original Japanese movies and just have to read the original stories. Also, I can’t seem to put them down early enough which means I am not getting enough sleep. A combination of reading too late and some freaky dreams. <3

 

 

natsuo-kirino-outLast but certainly not least is Out by Natsuo Kirino. By now (2005) even the reps at Random House know how much I love manga and Japanese novels, so when a package arrived from one of them containing a copy of this horrific thriller chocolates were sent as a thank you. In Out, a young woman strangles her husband to death and frantically turns to one of her co-workers for help disposing of the body. But things get out of hand thanks to in-fighting amongst the women involved, and the fact that a man wrongly accused of the crime takes it upon himself to make sure the right person(s) pay.

Why I love it: Unlike most other stories where the women would form some weird bond based on dismembering bodies, Out shows the reader a darker, more realistic version of that type of stressful situation. In a way it was my Dexter before I even knew about Dexter.

I hope I have inspired you to take a look at Japanese horror novels, whether it be the ones I’ve gone on about or others you might stumble across. Curl up with your favourite fall drink, a flashlight, and a cozy blanket and feel the goosebumps form on your arm while an uneasy chill sends shivers up and down your spine. 

*This post was previously published on The Daily Crate.

Her Eternal Moonlight

Filed under: Bookshelf — Tags: , — Yukino @ 7:18 PM

I first saw Sailor Moon on YTV when I was 14 years old. This discovery led to my fascination with manga and anime (which lead to opening up my own shop), and eventually I realized just how much this series about transforming junior high school girls shaped how I interacted with the world around me.

her-eternal-moonlight-cover-fullHer Eternal Moonlight came about as the result of one of those deep conversations you seem to find yourselves a part of during a convention. After one such discussion, co-authors Steven Savage and Bonnie Walling set out to investigate just how Usagi and Company’s journey impacted the lives of its North American female fans. They spoke to fans who found kindred spirits in our beloved Sailor Senshi at different ages (and stages) in their lives. The bullied, the shy, the outcasts who just didn’t fit in.

They discovered that many of us had familiar stories. That for several of young women, Sailor Moon represented us in ways we had never seen on TV before. We had female superheroes we could identify with, and discovering there were more people like us led us to seek out and build a thriving, inviting community.

 

Much like its titular heroine, the Sailor Moon story in all its incarnations seems sweet and smiling, but then it packs a punch you didn’t see coming. And that’s precisely the reason that you love it.

 

As a self-proclaimed Moonie, it was wonderful to read how one of my favourite manga/anime franchises impacted other women’s lives. Whether they found the original Sailor Moon anime when it aired on TV or more recent converts who began their journey with Crystal, the women who lent their voices to Her Eternal Moonlight always struck a chord with me on a personal level. Even a week after I finished reading the book I am wondering if and how future generations might look back on this beloved series. Those friends in my life with young children whom they are sharing the Sailor Moon Crystal experience with, will those girls and boys respond to it the same way my generation did seeing as anime is more accessible now than it was in the early 90s?

Not only do the authors of Her Eternal Moonlight talk to fans about how Usagi/Serena touched their lives, Steven and Bonnie also write about Sailor Moon’s impact on North American cartoons, an increasing interest in travel and living abroad in Japan, and how fans’ love for this franchise sent them down various career paths. All around, this is a great book of collected research that all points to one thing: Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon franchise has inspired fans all around the world, shaping many of us for the better.

Whether you are simply interested in Sailor Moon’s unique community or are a fan with a desire to feel more connected to other Moonies, Her Eternal Moonlight is available to purchase now on Amazon.

*This book review was previously published on The Daily Crate.

July 23, 2015

Armada by Ernest Cline

Filed under: Bookshelf — Tags: , , , , , , — Yukino @ 5:39 PM

Armada Ernest ClineThere are two categories of novels that I absolutely adore: fantasy and anything related to video games. After the pleasant surprise that was Ernest Cline’s debut, Ready Player One, there was no way I was going to wait on his sophomore tale, Armada.

While I’ve never been one for mech or flight simulation, Zach Lightman’s life-altering battle with the Europan army set to destroy Earth was kept me glued to my copy much later than I should be reading each night. Just last night I found I have to force myself to close the book at 2 AM knowing full well I had a single chapter and the epilogue left to enjoy.  (more…)

February 4, 2015

Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars)

Filed under: Bookshelf — Tags: , , , , , , — Yukino @ 12:26 PM

FoodWars1Shokugeki no Soma (aka Food Wars) caught my eye when I was flipping through the Viz Media spinner at Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks back. Now if you’re a friend of mine you know that I have an unhealthy obsession with food based anime and manga. Yakitate! Japan, Ben-To… So when I found all three available copies on the spinner with a Buy 2 Get 1 Free there was no way I could pass them up.  (more…)

May 16, 2014

Apparitions: Ghosts of Old Edo

ApparitionsMiyukiMiyabeAs a huge fan of Miyuki Miyabe’s Book of Heroes, Brave Story, and her ICO adaptation, there was no way I was going to pass on a collection of short ghost stories set in Edo (what is now known as Tokyo). Comprised of nine tales of supernatural and superstitious origin, Apparitions both disappointed and thrilled me. The first two stories didn’t strike me all that much and I found it hard to press on. After leaving it for a couple of days and reading something else in my book backlog, I came back with fresh eyes and hope for the remaining tales. Thankfully, these stories excited me and there were a few nights where I’d convinced myself “just one more story” would be acceptable, thus waking up way later than I wanted the following morning.

I’d have to say this is the weakest of all the Haikasoru imprint books I have in my library, but only because of those first two tales. Perhaps if I’d read them last I might feel differently. On the plus side, this reminded me that I need to get the Kitaro collections and Revoltech figures.

Apparitions is available in trade paperback from Amazon, RightStuf, and usually in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section of Barnes & Noble.

 

April 9, 2014

Griefed by Christa Charter

Filed under: Bookshelf — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Yukino @ 3:04 PM

griefedcoverSMALLFull disclosure: There are spoilers here so if you care about those sorts of things, TURN BACK NOW!

I finished Pwned giddy over Lexy’s relationship with her Asgardian snow god/undercover DEA boyfriend. She was finally with a man that deserved and appreciated her love, something semi-stable considering their professions. Everything was coming up roses. (more…)

March 25, 2014

Pwned by Christa Charter

Filed under: Bookshelf — Tags: , , , , , , , — Yukino @ 4:18 PM

pwnedcoversmall I should have written this months ago, before the follow up Griefed  landed in my lap. I am a horrible person, an awful internet friend, and the only excuse I have is I got sidetracked by life.

That said, I loved Pwned! Getting my hands on another Lexy Cooper mystery was fantastic and gave me a reason to finally put stuff on my hand-me-down Nook. When Lexy does her ex-boyfriend Nate a favour and checks in on a missing co-worker only to discover his body, she reaches out to our favourite homicide detective, Mike Malick, and once more we delve deep into the intrigue and shady business practices of the video game industry.  (more…)

January 22, 2014

I Saw Lexy Kissing Santa Claus by Christa Charter

LexyKissingSantasmallThe night could have been much better for Lexy Cooper. Her snowboarder-slash-DEA boyfriend Ash was out of town on tour and her nemesis weaseled her way into the Xenon office Christmas party, making things extremely uncomfortable for Lexy. So when it’s discovered that the alpha build of Xenon’s new console – Aether – has gone missing, Lexy teams up with her “uncle” Detective Mike Malick to track down the culprits and retrieve the unit before details leak to the gaming press.

The action in Book 2.5 was well paced, Lexy’s outfit was appropriately super skimpy, and her stage performances…. Well, they are 100% Lexy. It was hard to contain my laughter as I read this in a very quiet waiting room. I most definitely enjoyed this fun little short story bridging the events of Pwned with the soon to be released third installment of the Lexy Cooper series entitled Griefed (due Feb 2014).

June 6, 2013

You by Austin Grossman

Filed under: Bookshelf — Tags: , , , , , — Yukino @ 2:43 PM

You by Austin Grossman After reading Ready Player One I went looking for something new to read and Goodreads recommended I check out You by Austin Grossman. His name was familiar; turns out he’s a games writer and one I’ve seen in credits at least once or twice. A few of my gaming friends had also read the book and recommended it, so it seemed a smart move to pick it up.

There aren’t many fictional books based around video games without being an actual media tie-in for a franchise, a la Halo, Assassin’s Creed, Fable, Resident Evil, etc, and even most of those are simply novelizations of released games. That’s one of the reasons why I had been super excited about Ready Player One. So to find another book published in this category within a year of the other, I felt I’d hit the jackpot. (more…)

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