critical book reviews

Black Butler/Kuroshitsuji - Manga > Anime

I’m back to my reading critics! I was streaming a couple of books, Black Butler being one of them. Instead of going by book chapters since it is streamed, I read up to date and will express my opinion so far that I have read. 

I stand by my title with Black Butler, the manga is completely better then the anime. There are far many more adventures and stories that happen in the manga that never happened in the anime. The only way to explain is to tackle what is canon in the anime series and what is not. 

The manga explains all the unanswered questions that the anime never explain or didn’t explain very well with canon stories. For example, Ciel Phantomhive’s past as a demon sacrifice, the anime was more focus on the fire of the mansion then the summoning of Sebastian until we get to Black Butler: Book of Circus. The Book of Circus happens pretty early on with the manga series, technically right after the Indian Butler Arc. From there, we already know what happened to Ciel with details of his torture summons of Sebastian. We even got to know how Sebastian got his name! In that example alone, the anime is completely out of order and out of touch with the manga. 

The effects of being out of touch with the manga, the only anime watchers will never learn about other important characters or extra awesomeness of current canon characters. Elizabeth Midford (Lizzie) is one of these victims that fall into not being fully represented in the anime. In the anime, she is this helpless girl that is hopelessly in love with her fiancé Ciel and just tries her best to make him happy. In the manga, she is hopelessly in love with Ciel and cares about his happiness, however she is no where NEAR helpless. Not only is she the “daughter of the head of the British knights and the wife of the Queen’s Watch Dog”*, she is considered a genius in swordsmanship. Her back story was revealed in the manga with the Book of Atlantic Arc. Now I can’t speak for the film Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic, I would hope the shed the light on Lizzie’s back story and explain her badass-ness! She deserves way more respect as a character then what the anime has painted her so far. 

As much as I do not want to go into full detail of the end of the anime Black Butler and season of Black Butler II, I will mention a few things. The end of Black Butler anime goes into situations and characters that are not canon. It was as if they wanted to skip the entire manga and just do their own thing after the Indian Butler Arc. This was very relevant to the Black Butler II season being a full filler, none of the new characters exist nor the situations! The closest that the anime has come to the manga was when they did Black Butler: Book of Circus, to be honest I believe it was the best season (I started reading the manga after the anime). The anime seem to lost track of where they were going with the story of Ciel, and now they are all over the place. I would heavily suggest a reboot of the show, and have it as close as the manga as the can. 

The manga really is such a better story and following than what A-1 Pictures did with it. I could not put down my phone with every chapter, and now I am anxiously waiting on the little buzz when a new chapter is up to read! 

*Yana, Toboso “The Butler, Struggle” Black Butler/Kuroshitsuji ch. 57 (2006 - ) Square Enix & Yen Press

Provocative Book Explores The Connection Between Loneliness And Art

Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews The Lonely City by Olivia Laing:

“When Edward Hopper is the most upbeat artist whose work is discussed in a book about loneliness in the city, you know your reading experience is going to be a pretty bleak one.  Hopper, of course, gave us Nighthawks, his desolate 1942 painting of three customers and a soda jerk sharing space “alone together” in a late night diner. But Nighthawks looks positively warm and cozy compared to some of the other depictions of urban alienation that Olivia Laing surveys in her strange hybrid book of memoir, biography, and criticism called, The Lonely City.”

anonymous asked:

Can you say more about the Created Equal novel? I saw your tags about it having issues but I can't find much about it online.

+ separate Created Equal ask:


Hallo, Anon! Thanks for asking about it! There isn’t a lot online because Created Equal is not a novel in wide circulation - it was published by Tate Publishing, which is apparently a Christian publisher that generally operates on the vanity press model, where authors pay to publish their books…and also apparently just abruptly shut down after some lawsuits and slews of client complaints. Huh.

AnYWay! As far as I know, at the time of writing it, the sole piece of criticism (aside from a book review that says it’s just not very good) is from me, who read the free 10 chapter preview and ran away screaming, then broke down some of the writing I found deeply abhorrent. You can find it here, but, yeah! Tread lightly if rampant misogyny makes your blood boil, and rape victim-blaming turns your stomach - and also, it’s just really, really poorly written. :(


Hallo, Anon! Aah, thanks for the message, we really hope so! We’re not really holding our breaths since the author is the executive producer of the film, but still crossing our fingers that this project won’t be too painful! >_< Edy Ganem seemed like a really great person when I was keeping an eye on her social media, and I hope that the final product will reflect her values!

A Review of Ari Bach’s ‘Valhalla‘

Okay, I feel like I need to do a review of this book/trilogy by Ari Bach, aka @the-walrus-squad aka facts-i-just-made-up, because if you couldn’t tell from the fact I keep making fanart every time I re-read it, I really, really like Valhalla. I really, really do! So I’m gonna make a review basically saying why.

Keep reading

‘The Yid’ Puts A Brash, Screwball Spin On Soviet Antisemitism

Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews The Yid

“Much of what you need to know about Paul Goldberg’s singular debut novel is encapsulated in its title, The Yid. To paraphrase the late comedian Henny Youngman’s classic line: Take that title, Please!” But as brash as it may be, that title is Goldberg’s way of giving his readers fair warning: he’s written a novel, after all, that’s bound to offend at least some of the people some of the time. The Yid doesn’t play nice; in fact, it plays fast and loose with history, as well as with conventional approaches to writing about antisemitism and genocide.” 

Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin: 

“‘Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Mathematicians’: that’s the cautionary message of Ethan Canin’s new novel, A Doubter’s Almanac. A family saga liberally sprinkled with algebraic equations, A Doubter’s Almanac traces the lives of two generations of mathematical geniuses whose extraordinary minds lift them high above the madding crowd, but also plunge them deep into isolation, self-loathing, and addiction. Throughout the over-500 pages of this elegant and devastating novel, Canin writes with authority about the likes of number theory, submanifolds, and differential equations; but, what he writes about with even more authority is the pressure to work, to produce, to achieve, and the constant thrumming anxiety, felt by his central character in particular, that whatever special gifts one may have been graced with at birth, could just as mysteriously disappear.”

Photo: NPR Multimedia 


Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews the debut short story collection from Mia Alvar, In the Country:

“The initial “selling point” of Mia Alvar’s debut short story collection, In the Country, is its fresh subject matter: namely, Filipinos living under martial law in the 1970s in their own country and in exile, working as maids, engineers, teachers, health care workers and hired hands in the Middle East and the United States.

Beyond literary novelty, however, what will make readers want to remain in the tired and sad company of Alvar’s workers and wanderers is her own gorgeous writing style. Each one of the nine stories in this collection riffs on the theme of exile; yet, every main character’s situation is distinct, morally messy in a different way, and unpredictable. Alvar is the kind of writer whose imagination seems inexhaustible, and who stirs up an answering desire in her readers for more and more stories.”

Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Dana Spiotta’s novel Innocents and Others:

“Dana Spiotta’s new novel, Innocents and Others, passes the famous “Bechdel Test” with ease: that’s the requirement—as defined by cartoonist Alison Bechdel—that a work of fiction or a film must feature at least two female characters who talk with each other about something other than a man. No problem here. For a novel that opens on a teenager girl’s affair with an over-the-hill Orson Welles–and, then, goes on to chronicle its heroines’ relations over the years with various boy friends and a passing husband—Innocents and Others ultimately regards men with only a mild, even anthropological interest. Instead, the two women friends at the center of this story think and talk passionately for decades about ideas, films, and their own work. Men are momentary, but art is forever.”