A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony: Book Review
Sociology , Travel / October 9, 2016

Before I get into this review, I have to admit something that other nerds might find to be a bit disconcerting. It is only in the past several years that, aside from video games, I have truly appreciated the nerdtasticity of Japanese culture.  However, I recently have experienced the crazy awesome shows Fist of the North Star (quite literally mind-blowing) and Ranma 1/2.  As with all of my hobbies/obsessions, I wanted to dig deeper and find a book to tell me as much as possible about the mysterious land that produced such brilliant artistic content. Hector Garcia’s book is excellent on the whole, although the short title A Geek in Japan is a bit misleading.  A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony covers all different aspects of Japanese culture; this book is not entirely about manga, anime, video games, and other geek related hobbies. However, I am actually glad that it covers a broader view of the country because it provides a more complete picture of Japanese culture.  There are chapters dedicated to just about everything, including history, arts, workplace culture, daily life, travel destinations, and everything in between. Garcia manages to survey Japan to an impressive degree in a relatively brief work.  I am…

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Comedy , Horror / October 9, 2016

Every once in a while a book comes along that truly surprises you.  I picked this book up not too long after it was released, more or less on a whim.  I have a tendency to enjoy random, over-the-top humor, historical fiction, and horror, so I decided to give it a try. Although I braced myself against bitter disappointment, my caution proved to be gleefully unnecessary because Seth Grahame-Smith did not let me down. The narrative style is very attractive and interesting, because the entire story is told by a somewhat fictionalized version of Seth-Grahame Smith himself.  The chapters are made up out of summaries and direct quotations from Lincoln’s secret diary.  Seth Grahame-Smith weaved together real facts and quotes from Lincoln’s life into the fictionalized vampire hunter narrative so well that I am extremely jealous to have not thought of it first. In all seriousness, if we are honest with ourselves, I think that we can all agree that adding vampire hunting into history can only serve as a vast improvement.  Seriously, just look at the book cover.  If that does not get the point across, then I have no idea what will! Honest Abe’s personal vendetta against the vampires (who…

White Heart of Justice: Book Review
Fantasy , Romance / October 9, 2016

White Heart of Justice is the third installment in Jill Archer’s Noon Onyx series.  For anyone who is unaware of the series, Noon Onyx’s post-apocalyptic world is populated by demons (the victors of Armageddon) and a host of unique fantasy creatures.  The series focuses on Noon’s developing magical power, relationships, and many adventures in the unforgiving, demon haunted world of Halja.  For additional background information, check out my reviews of Dark Light of Day and Fiery Edge of Steel. As in Fiery Edge of Steel, White Heart of Justice sends Noon beyond the comforts of St. Lucifer’s Law School to the uncharted, near-mythical fringes of her world.  As the story begins, Noon is focused on winning the Laurel Crown Race in order to win the right to choose her fourth-semester residency.  As it turns out, the Divinity (the school of Angels) is still upset about Noon’s (sort of accidental) destruction of a priceless statue.  To make amends and win the Laurel Crown Race, Noon sets out to retrieve the legendary White Heart sword from the ice-tortured outpost of hell known as Tartarus. Once again, Jill Archer’s secondary characters prove to be as interesting as her main character.  Noon’s carefree and…

Fiery Edge of Steel: Book Review
Fantasy , Romance / October 9, 2016

Fiery Edge of Steel is Jill Archer’s second installment in her Noon Onyx series.  Archer’s novel is set in an engrossing fantasy world brimming with magic, creatures, and plenty of opportunities for adventure.  Fiery Edge of Steel essentially takes all of the best elements from the first novel in the series, Dark Light of Day, and improves upon them to create an exciting and thought-provoking narrative. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the series, my review of Dark Light of Day provides plenty of background information about the post-apocalyptic, demon haunted world of Halja.  In short, Noon Onyx is training to be a Maegester because she can control the forces of waning (destructive) magic due to the drop of demon blood in her lineage.  Because of their power, Maegesters are tasked with controlling the demons in Halja, arbitrating disputes, and may even be called upon to execute a demon in extreme cases. While Dark Light of Day focused on Noon’s myriad struggles coming to terms with her waning magic and her new life at St. Lucifer’s Law School, Fiery Edge of Steel sweeps Noon to the edges of New Babylonian civilization into the unknown.  When a resident of a distant outpost, known as the Shallows, sends a complaint to the Demon Council regarding the Patron Demon Vodnik,…

Dark Light of Day: Book Review
Fantasy , Romance / October 9, 2016

Dark Light of Day is the first novel in the Noon Onyx series by Jill Archer. Before I begin the review, I must point out that Jill Archer was born and raised in Pittsburgh (objectively the greatest place to be born).  Therefore, the quality of her work is undoubtedly beyond reproach! Archer’s world-building is one of the most compelling elements of the story.  The essential background to Dark Light of Day is that angels (lead by the Savior) and demons (lead by Lucifer) fought Armageddon many centuries in the past and that the demons were victorious.  New Babylon, the major city in this post-apocalyptic world, is inhabited by angels, demons, and their descendants, as well as Hyrkes (regular people who cannot use magic). Noon Onyx is born with a drop of demon blood in her lineage, which makes her a part of the Host.  Although it is common for girls to be born with waxing (healing) magic, Noon is ashamed of the fact that she is blessed/cursed with waning (destructive) magic.  Her neighbor, and potential love interest, Peter spends most of his time trying to find a reversal spell to give Noon the healing magic that she desires.  However, Noon soon attends St. Lucifer’s…

The Hobbit: Book Review
Fantasy / October 9, 2016

What can I say about J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit that has not already been repeated more than amateur impressions of Gollum?  Yes, my precious!  It seems more valuable for me to provide a retrospective about what The Hobbit means to me rather than a standard review, so here it goes. On the off chance that a reader has not heard of The Hobbit or any of the film adaptations, The Hobbit is the landmark work in high fantasy. Although I do prefer The Lord of the Rings to The Hobbit, primarily because The Lord of the Rings is written for a higher reading level, The Hobbit is where Tolkien’s epic tale begins. Bilbo, the titular hobbit, embarks on an adventure with a wizard named Gandalf and a gaggle of dwarves (or maybe it would be drove of dwarves?) in order to slay a dragon and reclaim the ancient dwarf kingdom. I vividly remember the day when I went to the now defunct Borders (I still have my old Border’s rewards card and will probably never stop grieving over the chain’s closure) near my parent’s house to purchase The Hobbit on the recommendation of a friend.  The day was rainy, which is perfect for reading, and when I got the book home I finished nearly the entire story within the day.  Since…

Bibliomania Book Reviews
News / October 9, 2016

Hello, fellow bibliomaniacs!  Some of you might remember my old blog which was titled “Proud Nerd Book Reviews.”  I recently decided to relaunch my blog and will be uploading my old reviews in addition to posting new content on a regular basis.  I am very excited to return to blogging, so stay posted for updates!