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My LibraryThing Early Reviews

Ghost in the Mirror by Leslie Rule
The Ghost in the Mirror

This books covered real life encounters with the paranormal mainly in the USA. I found the encounters interesting and enjoyable. Unfortunately they were hardly the star of the show. Too often then not the encounters that are mentioned has no historical research to back them up. Instead you get the author's theory on what is going on. A good example of this is in Chapter 1, Restless Nights. A young boy sees a ghost of a woman without pupils in her eyes carrying a basket. Leslie the postulates that ghost could be a blind woman from a school teaching basket weaving for the blind. The only evidence she shows for this is a school in Batavia New York 400 plus miles from the haunting site. She shows no evidence of such a school within closer distance of the haunting or a woman from that school living nearby. So all we are left with is guess and no hard evidence. This repeats itself throughout the book. A couple more examples would be that of a ghost girl being a possible victim of an epidemic to ghosts in a closed tobacco company having a possible origin in disease. Once again this is just the author theorizing and no connection with actual facts. That is not saying these places are not haunted just that the reason is unclear.

The other thing I had a problem with is focusing on the investigators. This is a book about ghosts not those who hunt them. While a book about these people could be warranted and quite interesting, bringing them up here only distracts from the subject matter. This also leads into her putting forth modern ghost theories and techniques. Once again this steers away from the subject matter and into the realm of current belief.

To me a ghost story is about the human drama of those who have gone on and the drama of those who are alive who witness the past via the hauntings. When this book focuses on that it shine but as I have said too often it ignores for the author's own theories and stories of the investigators.

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Audition by Ryu Murakami
Audition

A dark ride as one man's desire for the perfect new wife blinds him to an elemental force of nature personified in the antagonist of the story. Aoyama wanted a someone to love to replace in his heart his deceased wife Ryoko. It has been seven years and at the urging of his son Shige, Aoyama begin a quest to find a new wife. Initially he had no clue but when his friend Yoshikawa suggested running an audition for movie as front for meeting the lady of his dream, he jumps at the chance. Of course this is where the unreal beauty Yamasaki Asami comes in as person looking for a role in the movie they are doing. But as the movie is unlikely ever to come about, it is an illusion to trick these young ladies so Aoyama can get what he wants. It is this charade that will cause Aoyama great pain.

Yamasaki Asami is that force of nature. A cold and calculating menace that is hard to read other then something being off about her. Through out the remainder of the books as readers we see glimpse into what she really is, all the while Aoyama is blinded by her. You could almost say that Yamasaki Asami represent a new face of femininity in Japan made up to be very frightful especially when one consider that in a lot of ways Aoyama represents the ideal Japanese male. It is through this conflict, that we see that transition from a male dominated society to one that scares those who are part of the old guard.

I did find Yamasaki Asami a little under developed but to give more depth would move her from a monster to a more sympathetic character. What little we do see of her is as much as we would any innocent that has had a traumatic experience that transform them into the monster that has to be stopped. Aoyama on the other hand is fully realized but because of this, he may not be identifiable with unless one shares similar outlook. On a whole very dark but interesting read even if I did not completely identify with any character.

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The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
The Devotion of Suspect  X

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino is a murder mystery where the mystery revolves not around who did the crime or how they did it but how they hid it. Basically the Hanaokas (mother Yasuko and daughter Misato) in a fit of passion murders Shinji Togashi. Their next door neighbor Ishigami a mathematician/school teacher offers his services to cover up the murder. Thus begins a battle of wits between Ishigami and a former college friend/physicist/police consultant Yukawa. Aiding in this battle of wit is Police Detective Kusanagi.

Besides excellent pacing, Higashino brings the characters of Ishigami, Yukawa and Yasuko Hanaoka to life. Some of secondary characters are not as well drawn but that does not distract from the story. Instead we are left with a well crafted novel that leaves you amaze at the simplicity and yet genius conflict between Ishigami and Yukawa. While I am not really big into mathematics or physics, I found the use of mathematical theorems in regards to what was going on interesting.

In summary, this is a great book and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

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Otaku Spaces by Patrick Galbraith
Otaku Spaces

What is an otaku? The answer to that question, Patrick Galbraith along with photographer Androniki Christodoulu attempts to show us in Otaku Spaces. They take us on journey into the world of the otaku by first giving us a brief history of both the famous and infamous events and people in the use of the word to its current meaning.

The real meat of the book is the next part of the journey. Here we meet otaku the average person to the famous (a K1 fighter, two members of the idol group Nakano Fujoshi Sisters and Danny Choo). Some view themselves as dabblers. Some believe that the term as it is currently used do not apply to them. While others embrace it fully. Here we get a peek into the private lives of these otaku and glance at their psychology and history. We also get to see what the term otaku means to them even if they do not believe themselves to be otaku.

The next section covers commercial venues where otaku gathers. This range from Akihabara (home of the idol group AKB48, stores that cater to otaku and maid cafe) to Nippombashi in Otaku. We cover their history and development as meeting places for otaku.

The book finally ends with interviews with several experts on what made otaku an economic and global phenomenon. All in all a quite interesting read. I would highly recommend it to anyone from people who are interested in their fellow fans to the person who is trying to understand why a loved one is into what they are into.

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