Saturday, 30 June 2012

Kajio Shinji and Tsuruta Kenji «Memories of Emanon»

Menories of Emanon

good manga for girls - 16+

This seinen manga is written in the genre of science fiction with a dramatic and philosophical bent.

Emanon is an assumed name of the manga’s heroine, it is the invert of the words «noname». She presents herself as Emanon when she meets a young student on whose behalf the story is narrated. Emanon is a seventeen years old girl who often behaves like a child. She has a sense of humor and charisma, which at once attracted the youth. Emanon tells him an incredible story that she is the repository of 3 billion years of memory on the world’s existence. These memories are transferred in her family from generation to generation at the DNA level, and the one who passes that memory recalls afterwards nothing but his or her own life. Emanon recognizes that she did not understand immediately what was happening to her, whether these memories she saw were real or just a hallucination.

Graphics of "Memories of Emanon" deserve special attention. You should start with the fact that the  manga artist used a specifically casual style of drawing in which the jagged lines and fragmented hatches were used. However, characters and detailed backgrounds are at a very high level. Most striking is how realistic the scenery looks even if the drawing is negligent. It should be noted that a lot of attention was paid to the backgrounds and scenery, which in today's manga does not happen very often. Characters’ design does not give rise to any comment. Highly detailed and realistic style is perfectly executed, especially considering that the graphics are in the same careless style, like large strokes. In this sense, the graphic style is in harmony with the artistic means that the author used in the story. The only thing that may be considered as a “minus” is the lack of emotional facial expressions of characters, although this does not interfere with the perception of the story.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Laura Wolf "Diary of a Mad Bride"

Her wedding is the most important event in the life of any woman. The majority of women says so.

It just happens that the heroine of “Diary of a Mad Bride" by Laura Wolf, Amy Thomas, does not support the above statement. She says sarcastically that brides infected by the virus called "wedding fever" do not trigger any feelings except pity and laughter, and certainly not jealousy. She thinks so until the very moment her handsome prince, Stephen, makes her a marriage proposition. What happens next? Oh, the real "wedding fever", which Amy continues to deny. She tries to combine the preparations for the marriage with her job and other important matters; she solves family and money problems. Armed with a guide for weddings’ preparations and a pre-marriage to-do-list, she tries to follow the plan and not to panic too much.

Amy Thomas with all her misadventures, her peculiar logic and the insane desire to appear a strong business woman holding everything under control, makes you smile. And when the earth seems to give away under her feet, then she makes you feel sorry. However, you respect Amy for her desire to achieve whatever was intended - not every woman has such willpower or obstinacy. In the course of the story Amy regrets her actions a thousand times, but does not change the path that was initially chosen.

How to stop being nervous if the recently married girlfriend, Mandy, is increasingly turning into a chicken-hen, and sprinkles with tips; Amy’s mother offers an old and absolutely awful, smelling of mothballs, wedding dress; shoes of a desired model cannot be found for an affordable price?

The book is ironic and sometimes sarcastic, showing to readers what a marriage can actually do to a girl, how it can throw a girl off the track. And Amy Thomas is an excellent example of the most "gone mad" brides.

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Manga - The Girl Who Leapt Trough Time

good manga for girls - for all ages

Manga "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time" was created based on the book of the same name written by Yasutaka Tsutsui and released in 1972. Two movies were filmed later and an animation film was issued in 2006, almost simultaneously with the one-volume book of comics.

The main character of this famous story is Makoto Konno, a seventeen year old schoolgirl, who accidentally got the ability to move through time. Otherwise, she is no different from other high school students. She is not clear abot her future. More like a boy, Makoto loves to play baseball with her two best friends – Chiaki and Kousuke. These friends often make fun of Makoto, but they really care about her. The girl is a bit clumsy and always rushes somewhere, since she is late all the time.

One day, Makoto has an accident: she cannot slow down in front of a train. Only by some miracle of luck did she stay alive, and she performs a dizzying leap in time. With that, it all begins...

Nobody in this manga tries to save the world, at least, in the usual sense. But for Makoto her friends and her life are also a world that needs help and salvation. Throughout the story Makoto learns from her mistakes, and if at the beginning she takes the lessons rather lightly, by the end of the story a very grown-up girl is presented to readers.

The manga's characters are revealed perfectly, not least due to emotional facial expressions of characters. It should be noted that the graphics, though drawn in a typical way for modern Japanese comics, captures your attention by a very well drawn atmosphere of the school routine.

This manga is primarily about love. That does not mean in any way that there is nothing other than a school romance diluted by some time travels. "Girl Who Leapt Through Time" is a story about how important the time is and what value it has in human life.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Philip Pullman "The Subttle Knife"

Philip Pullman - The Subtle Knife

Lyra Belacqua: the next level (The Subtle Knife)

Good books for girls age 12.

"The Subttle Knife" is the second part of the trilogy "His Dark Materials" by Philip Pullman. The book was released in 1997.

Lyra travels from her world into Cittagazze, a strange place, inhabited, at first glance, only by children. According to the stories of С
itagazze’s children, adults are devoured by mysterious ghosts whom children can not see. In Cittagazze Lyra meets Will Parry, the second main character of "His Dark Materials", who came to Cittagazze from his world. From this moment the life of Lyra changes significantly again. Meeting Will determines Lyra's fate, being one of the prophecies that come true as referred to in the trilogy.

In contrast to the "Northern Lights", where Lyra is still a child even if she goes through a lot of difficulties and losses, "The Subttle Knife" is written in a slightly different way. The narrative becomes more serious, the sadness which passes throughout the entire trilogy feels even more strongly. And Lyra continues to grow, learning more about the worlds, Dust and life in general.

The subtle knife is a subject with which you can transport yourself from one world to another, it chooses Will as its owner. Will with a help of the knife looks for his long-lost father and Lyra joins him, hoping to find the source of Dust. During their travels through different worlds the girl and the boy tie to each other, although at first they often quarrel due to their complex characters and different perceptions of the world.

When Lyra lived in a medieval Oxford she had many friends, among whom she enjoyed unlimited authority. With Will everything is different, he has much better orientation in a variety of situations, he knows more, and Lyra must learn to listen and trust him. In addition, it is difficult to impress Will, a boy of modern Britain, and Lyra is a bit shocked by that, because so far it was easy for her to get respect of other children.

"The Subttle Knife" is a kind of transitional stage in Lyra's life - she has already gone through a lot of things, her perception of the world has changed dramatically, she is not a little girl, but her experience and knowledge so far are not enough for the mysterious prophecy be realized.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Agatha Christie "At Bertram’s Hotel"

Agatha Christie - At Bertram's Hotel
There are women that are not suitable at all to perform the role of mother. It is exactly this type of a lady, a rich seeker of thrilling emotions, Bess Sedgwick, who appears in the novel "At Bertram’s Hotel" by Agatha Christie. At the time, Bess, who did not want to live an ordinary life, delegated the upbringing of her daughter, Elvira Blake, to governesses, and later on sent Elvira to a closed boarding school in Italy.

Elvira completes her education and returns to England. By incredible coincidence, she turns out to be in the same hotel with her mother and her mom’s lover. The girl is disoriented, she learns a lot of unwanted information, including that she may not receive her inheritance, which she desperately needs to get married. Bess is struggling to stay away from her daughter as it is not the right place for her daughter to be next to a chieftain of a gang constantly tickling nerves by committing extravagant, but absolutely illegal acts. 

Unfortunately, the influence of heredity shows itself - the first husband of Bess, Michael Gorman, dies supposedly protecting Elvira. Nothing stands between the girl and her inheritance. When a criminal investigation starts, maternal instincts of Bess Sedgwick wake up, she takes the blame for the murder of Gorman, then escaping from the arrest, she gets out of the window, climbs over the roof, gets into the car, accelerates it to the maximum speed and deliberately crashes into the barrier.

Miss Marple and the police commissioner do not have doubts about the guilt of Elvira, but Bess took the blame upon herself, her testimony is recorded. It is in form of death that Bess Sedgwick gave love to her daughter, which she was incapable of during her lifetime.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Serious Astrid Lingren "Ronia, the Robber's Daughter”

 Lingren-Ronia, the Robber's Daughter

Good books for girls age 10.

The name of Astrid Lindgren is now known all over the world, it is the author of numerous children's books on which grew several generations of children. Most of the works of the Swedish writer are easy, fun and imbued with humor. The characters of Lindgren joke even in tense dramatic moments and cope with difficulties fast enough.

However, there is a book of Astrid Lindgren that stands out strongly by its seriousness and even some trag
ic nature; it is "Ronia, Robber's Daughter". The book was released in 1981 in Swedish language followed by a film of Swedish production in 1984.

In contrast to the well-known "Carlsson on the Roof" and "Pippi Longstocking" "Ronia, Robber's Daughter" is quite a complex book, evoking strong "adult" emotions such as sadness, sometimes almost to tears. Even the comic characters of the book emphasize the seriousness of events.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Dan Brown "The Lost Symbol"

Dan Brown-The Lost Symbol
What if a woman does a serious business? I mean, Dr. Katherine Solomon, from the novel "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown. She is a classical image of a woman who devoted her life to noesis. She has a realistic, sober look at life and she is in charge of her brother Peter, also an outstanding scientist, who cannot orientate himself in real life. By the way, Katherine is herself a scientist of a high rank.

Everything has its price. Katherine Solomon has no family. Dan Brown is one of those authors who recognize two types of women: kitchen or laboratory. That is, of course, a very convenient way to work with your personages, but there are thousands of women who combine scientific work with marriage and raising children. With all the versatility of Katherine’s talents, she looks a bit dry; femininity in her life is absent and manifests itself only in respect of her genius brother.

I can not judge the author. He did not set himself the task to demonstrate the image from all sides. The book is good without it. But still, I felt somewhat disappointed - the world of Dan Brown is driven only by men.

Sidney Sheldon "The Doomsday Conspiracy"

S Sheldon-The Doomsday Conspiracy
I confess: I'm not a fan of ladies' novels. In most cases it is possible to predict who will marry whom, who will suffer a crushing defeat because of their snaky character and who will end up in bed with whom.

Oh, those sex scenes! I do not consider myself as a virtue dragon, but I expect beautiful descriptions of feelings, not the size of genitals and the number of orgasms. I consider this sort of a literature as harmful, after reading r-r-romantics, some ladies would expect heroic deeds in bed from their husbands, forgetting that he worked full time, went shopping and washed the dishes, and therefore, he is tired. Inventions of some roman makers should not be projected to our real life. Let's not forget about that.

The one who knew how to write novels in which images of women were full-blooded and independent left us recently, it is Sidney Sheldon. Let’s take the novel "The Doomsday Conspiracy" which is about a UFO that came down to the Earth. Due to a number of reasons, it was decided that all who rode the tour bus and saw the extra-terrestrial apparatus should be destroyed.

The protagonist, searching for witnesses (without knowing the true goal of his search!), Robert, is married to a beloved woman, Susan. 

Is it enough just to love in order to save a marriage? Robert often disappears from home on business needs, in his free time he does not want to show the world to his wife: no restaurants, no picnics. He just wants to stay home. His wife feels abandoned.

Tell me, is not it happening in our reality? Do pilots, sailors, surgeons, and all these enthusiastic scientists have trouble to pay attention to the one which was once occupying all their thoughts, and now became a Wife? Do they realize what might happen?

Susan is a whole hearted woman, a rare type. She is a nurse of the highest caliber. At the time she pulled her future husband away from death, guessing all his sufferings and desires, helping to find the will to live, not to mention the medical procedures.
She continues working after marriage as loneliness in an empty house for her is unbearable.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Roald Dahl "The Witches"

Roald Dahl-The Witches

Good books for girls age 10.

Here's what Dahl said about witches: "A witch is always a woman. I do not want to speak badly about women. Most women are lovely. But the fact remains that all witches are women. There is no such thing as a male witch. On the other hand, a ghouls is always a male. So indeed is a barghest. Both are dangerous. But neither of them is half as dangerous as a REAL WITCH. As far as children are concerned, a REAL WITCH is easily the most dangerous of all the living creatures on earth".

I'm not eight years old, but this wonderful children's thriller gave me the heebie-jeebies Dahl is a brilliant writer, one of those that make fall in love with reading. The story is so charmingly horrible that it was impossible to break away. It turns out that witches live among us; we must be vigilant and learn to recognize them knowing three things about their looks.There is also a positive female character in the book - an old granny of a young boy. She smokes cigars and she reveales the secrets of the witches to her grand son, as she is a retired witchophile.
Will they track down The Grand High Witch? Read and discover. I, personally, was a little bit upset by the end.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Marie-Madeleine de La Fayette "The Princess of Cleves" and Nicolas Sarkozi

"A sadist or an idiot, you decide, included questions about 'La Princesse de Cleves' in the exam for public sector jobs…. I do not know if it ever happened to you to ask a ticket seller what she thinks of 'La Princesse de Cleves'…. Imagine the spectacle,” Sarkozi said in 2006.

In Spring 2009 Mr. Sarkozi apparently made another comment about the book, as in March 2009 publishers reported a sudden rise in sales of ‘The Princess of Cleves’ and the banners with the slogan "I am reading La Princesse de Cleves" was a very popular sales item.

Mass protests in form of public readings of the book were initiated by Sorbonne and other Universities. Here you may watch a short reportage on manifestation in front of Pantheon.

Monday, 11 June 2012

George Sand "Francia"

Famous classic literature.

My love for the author, George Sand, began in school. The first serious book which I read was a book of George Sand "Consuelo". After that I began to read avidly all the books of this stunning woman with a male pseudonym.

"Francia" is a story that describes the war of 1812. The author dedicated the story to France and Russia. What I really like in the books of George Sand is that she is able not only to show historical patterns and scales of what was happening, but also to touch your soul by her narrative. The story of a young grisette who falls in love with a brilliant Russian officer is described very nicely. Does such a love lead anywhere? Read and find out! I really like that George Sand shows not only the lives of the rich classes, but also those of poor people. She shows how difficult it is to survive and to show respect to everybody. I myself changed my attitude to many things, after reading these kinds of books. I hope that you will like it too!

Here is a link to Francia by George Sand in French (unfortunately, I was not able to find anything in English).

Friday, 8 June 2012

Tatiana de Rosnay "Sarah’s key"

Tatiana de Rosnay-Sarah’s key
Quite an amazing book that touches the Holocaust theme. "Sarah’s Key" refers to those oeuvres that make readers experience a catharsis.

The classical version of "a novel in a novel" creates a tension, and the book does not let you go until the last page. It is a story of how a little Jewish girl, Sarah, escapes from the Auschwitz camp. She runs away to save her younger brother, whom she locked up in a secret cupboard in order to save from death. The story makes even the stone hearted cry. A myriad of feelings experienced by Sarah, who returns home only to find the corpse of her dead brother, expressed with unprecedented power and precision. The future life of Sarah will become a service to the memory of her brother and an attempt to escape from her terrible memories.

The frame of the novel, as it seems to me, is an attempt of the French people to understand that thousands of murders were committed with participation or acquiescence of their ancestors. Julie, the heroine of the frame-novel, investigates the story of Sarah and at the same time reflects on the Holocaust. She wonders if one has to repent in order to have the right to be named as a human being.

Unfortunately, the line of Julie's personal life is rather weak and reduces the overall impression from the novel. If the story of Sarah is a heart tearing drama, the story of Julia is a rather irritating melodrama due to its predictability and ordinariness.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Haruki Murakami "Norwegian Wood" and Scott Fitzgerald "The Great Gatsby"

To write a post about the book of Murakami, without mentioning the "Great Gatsby" did not work, because I could not separate the two books; they are so much in tune. In each novel, the story is narrated on behalf of a man, a participant of events and at the same time an observer. “So, where are the women?» you might ask. Women, in general, are present in most books. But 
in these two novels, they play a special role, they are a symbol of hope, a myth or an illusion. The protagonist of the novel "Norwegian Wood", Watanabe, often says about the profile of his beloved, as if he wants to say that he knows only part of her personality. Even when he tries to remember her he says he remembers clearly her image seen from behind.

A friend of mine pointed out on the similarities between the two novels, she drew attention to the fact that Watanabe constantly reads or mentions Gatsby, and then it dawned on me - everything fell into place, and the Norwegian forest, like a Christmas tree, lightened up illuminating the maze. I suddenly saw all that I had missed, all the depth and strength of this work.

Watanabe does not seem to be similar to the great Gatsby whom Fitzgerald describes as having "some heightened sensitivity to all the promises of life," he is different, but reading further, you realize that his actions are just the same, and embody what Fitzgerald calls "
an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person."

If Fitzgerald's novel ends with the complete disillusionment and the death of the protagonist, “Norwegian wood” has another ending - harder, more sophisicated and more shrill. Well, and Watanabe is not a clone of  Gatsby. He is very passionate, this Watanabe, but in a Japanese reserved way: strong character, an amazing maturity for a twenty years old student, and honesty. Just an example, at that time strikes, protests and discussions about an ideal society were fashionable in students’ society. Watanabe has always remained outside the singing of the crowd. After the dissolution of strikes, students would return to the school, and would diligently mark their attendance at the lectures of professors against whom they were striking. Whereas Watanabe simply remained silent when his name was called expressing a real protest.

Many say that the book is crammed with descriptions of sex, the book was even forbidden in some countries. For me, sex has passed by, it did not go unnoticeable, but it was organic, and did not spoil the impression. His one-day adventures, in my opinion, were an escape from boredom, but also an attempt to understand his friend and "normal" people. Watanabe constantly compares the current "crazy" society of Japan and a place for the mentally ill where doctors and patients are equal (doctors, by the way, look more abnormal in comparison with patients). It is banal, but the book makes you think.

So, Murakami is Yes. “Norwegian wood” is a novel about love, destruction of hopes. It is kind of a sequel to "The Great Gatsby," but unlike Gatsby, in Norwegian wood  frustration is followed by renaissance. The two books are about a faith in good and women symbolize this “good”.

More about women characters, beauty and style in my blog Notes about styling