July 28, 2021

Silver Spoon

Since her adventures in Coin, Donna Howard has become an established investigator of relics and antiques, with the help of deceased historical people only she can see. This time around, her investigation takes her to Salem, Massachusetts, where she delves into the town's haunted history and the modern world of antique hunting.

Her research into the provenance of a silver spoon leads Donna to a stash of unexpectedly valuable junk in an old man's basement, an old man whose death Donna begins to suspect was less than "accidental." Along with opportunistic antiquers, she must also contend with a possible murder, a possible possession, and a possible boyfriend.

Because nothing can make the dead past and the living present more precarious than the unpredictable complexities of human relationships.

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Donna Howard Mysteries

Coin
Silver Spoon
Apron
Clasp

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July 24, 2021

Hills of Silver Ruins (2/22)

I've posted chapter 22 (book 2) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

The expression "pave the way" (道を敷く) is a literal translation. When translating material that takes place in a historical setting, anachronisms are always a concern. But according to Google's Ngram viewer, "pave the way" dates to the 17th century, while "stand in the vanguard," which sounds more Shakespearean, appears in regular usage only in the 19th century (though the word "vanguard" had entered the English language by the late 15th century).

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July 17, 2021

Tubi update

Tubi is an ad-supported streaming site with one of the best (least annoying) ad engines in the business. It has a sizable anime catalog and the keyword search feature is fast. The Roku app works without a hitch.

Except when it doesn't. On a rather random basis, when I queue up a video and press play, the app crashes hard.

I picture a guy scurrying down to a dark vault, switching on a dim incandescent bulb, and pulling out a VHS tape with the title scribbled on the label with a Magic Marker.

He brushes off the cobwebs and loads it into the machine, powers the VCR on and off a couple of times, and gives it a good hard whack. After that, everything works fine. Weird. Maybe it's just a Roku thing.

The content is all over the place. Subbed and dubbed, old and new, real gems, timeless classics, and junk they got on the cheap. Nothing is sorted. Simply identifying new titles turns into a scavenger hunt.

The subtitled version of Penguin Highway, for example, is tagged "Western, Comedy, Romance (1934)." The thumbnail graphic for Black Jack says "English subbed" but it's a dub. That kind of thing.

At least anime has its own category. Live-action Japanese titles on Tubi are lumped under "Foreign Language," most of which aren't Japanese. A handful are worth finding (though it'll take patience finding them).

But, hey, it's free. And having Fox as the parent company has paid off with licensing agreements with distributor Shout! Factory and anime giant Toei Animation. There are needles in the haystack and gold in them there hills.

Here are a few notable titles.

• Bakuman (the definitive guide to the manga business)
• The Case of Hana & Alice (a delightful rotoscoped anime)
• Cowboy Bebop (Netflix is making the live-action version)
• The Devil is a Part Timer (at a fast-food joint)
• Galaxy Express 999 (the classic series)
• GeGeGe No Kitaro (the recent reboot)
• Liz and the Blue Bird (in the high school band genre)
• Lupin the Third (the first two seasons)
• Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
• Napping Princess (by GITS director Kenji Kamiyama)
• Onihei (an Edo period police procedural)
• Penguin Highway (geeky kid meets magical penguins)
• Sound! Euphonium: The Movie (the sequel to the series)
• Summer Days with Coo (a kappa gets lost in suburbia)
• The Wonderland

Due to the lack of any rhyme or reason, when perusing the catalog, I recommend keeping ANN open in another tab so you can check out the reviews.

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July 14, 2021

Coin

It's 1995 and Donna Howard is living an ordinary life in Portland, Maine. She works as a hairdresser, has a boring boyfriend, two opinionated brothers, and two exhaustively energetic parents. As far as she's concerned, she's an ordinary person and proud of it.

Except she can see the past. Walk down any street in the old part of the city and four centuries of its inhabitants walk right along with her. She can observe them, hear them, smell them. And she'd rather not. She'd prefer to leave the past in the past.

Until a customer "accidentally" leaves an ancient Roman coin at the hair salon. A coin worth an awful lot of money. Then the woman appraising the coin for the Portland Museum of Art "accidentally" ends up dead. And now the past won't leave her alone.

Not even the man who's visage was molded into the metal 2000 years ago, a man who wreaked mayhem then and may have witnessed murder now. Quite unwittingly, Donna uncovers family secrets, confronts historical controversies, and closes in on a very contemporary crime.

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Donna Howard Mysteries

Coin
Silver Spoon
Apron
Clasp

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July 10, 2021

Hills of Silver Ruins (2/21)

I've posted chapter 21 (book 2) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon. Chapter 22 should be ready in two weeks.

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July 08, 2021

Fox & Wolf

Yuki Yamakawa comes from an old yakuza family. She loves training dogs and beating up bullies for a more secret reason: she's a werewolf. But after one fight too many, Yuki's uncle sends her to Osaka's most exclusive girl's school to straighten her out.

There she meets her exact opposite, Ami Tokudaiji.

Ami is as high in society as Yuki is low. But with the family facing a financial scandal, the Tokudaiji fortune depends on Ami's mother participating in a shady real estate deal. Just as Yuki's estranged father returns to Osaka to lead a criminal investigation.

As it turns out, on her father's side, Yuki's blood runs bluer than any of her aristocratic classmates. Even so, that long-hidden family connection pales in comparison to the most fantastic fact of all: Ami is a kitsune, a Japanese werefox, and doesn't know it!

When they both end up in the same homeroom class at school, they'll have to stop fighting each other long enough to join forces against the mobsters menacing Ami's family.

The Kindle and paperback editions can be purchased from Amazon, and the ePub version from Smashwords, iBooks, and Google Play. Visit the website for more details and to read the novel online.

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July 03, 2021

Hills of Silver Ruins (2/20)

I've posted chapter 20 (book 2) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

Japanese arrowroot is better known as kudzu (葛), an invasive species in North America.

Eisou is written with the kanji for ice (氷) and frost (霜).

Slope mines differ from shaft and drift mines, which access resources by tunneling straight down or horizontally, respectively. In slope mining, the primary access to the mine is on an incline.

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June 30, 2021

Lord Simon: The Dispossession of Hannah

To save a young woman from a band of marauding students, Lord Simon bespelled her into the walls of his house, powerful magic he later discovers he cannot undo.

Determined to free her from this prison of wood and stone, Lord Simon consorts with grave robbers and physicians, politicians and priests, twisting the arms of the powerful and the profane in every profession. As his reputation and his house crumble around him, his obsession to save a woman long thought dead threatens to drive him mad.

The third installment in the Roesia series, Lord Simon: The Dispossession of Hannah encompasses the events in Richard: The Ethics of Affection and Aubrey: Remnants of Transformation.

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The Roesia Series

Tales of the Quest
Lord Simon: The Dispossession of Hannah
Richard: The Ethics of Affection
Aubrey: Remnants of Transformation

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June 26, 2021

Hills of Silver Ruins (2/19)

I've posted chapter 19 (book 2) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

As explained in "Blue Orchid,"

Yaboku hunters were drifters, not attached to any one kingdom. They made a living roaming from place to place gathering useful seeds and sprouts from the yaboku trees, then cultivating and selling them.

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June 23, 2021

The Real Darcy

Besides the badness of the writing, Kate argues that the biggest problem with Pride and Prejudice fan fiction (commercially published or otherwise) is that it inevitably makes Darcy out to be the stereotypical alpha male of Regency romances.

Austen simply wasn't capable of being that simple and obvious, and nothing in the text justifies it. As Kate explains:

I go along with Phyllis Ferguson Bottomer's argument in So Odd a Mixture that Darcy is borderline autistic. Her delineation of Darcy's character is one of the most accurate and delightful on record. She recognizes what few interpretations do, namely, Darcy is accused of pride in Hertfordshire for reasons that have nothing to do with familial or class pride.

Most tributes to Pride and Prejudice fail to acknowledge that all of Darcy's problems in Hertfordshire stem from his behavior, not from his beliefs about himself. He is perceived as proud because he won't dance or talk, not because he boasts about his position or even because he gives anyone the "cut direct." He doesn't even cut poor Mr. Collins.

To correct this problem, she penned A Man of Few Words, an addendum to Pride and Prejudice that relates Darcy's perspective on the important events in the novel.

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(See here for the perfect Japanese Darcy.)

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June 19, 2021

Hills of Silver Ruins (2/18)

I've posted chapter 18 (book 2) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

A manjuu (饅頭) is a steamed yeast bun with a filling.

The song referred to throughout the novel is based on the classic Chinese poem Zhan Cheng Nan (「戦城南」), translated as "South of the Walls We Fought." It was written by a Han dynasty poet whose name has been lost to history.

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June 12, 2021

Hills of Silver Ruins (2/17)

I've posted chapter 17 (book 2) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

A wicket or wicket gate is a small door set into a larger gate. The wicket makes it possible to let in a handful of individuals without opening the main gate, enabling the guards to better control access to the town.

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June 09, 2021

Clasp

Buried inside a cache of religious relics from Medieval England, the ghost of a young boy knows only that he must protect these holy treasures. But as his era recedes into history and the relics scatter hither and yon, all he can do is rage against the collectors of the last remaining object, a silver spoon.

Centuries later, he encounters Donna Howard, an antiquities appraiser who can speak with the spirits. Donna's research has convinced her that a sixteenth century skeleton recently discovered in England is the boy's remains. Now in order to free himself from the spoon, the boy must confront his own murder.

Even when the crime is five hundred years old, Donna Howard is determined to solve the case.

Paperback
Kindle
Smashwords
iBooks
Google Play
Nook
Kobo

Donna Howard Mysteries

Coin
Silver Spoon
Apron
Clasp

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June 05, 2021

Hills of Silver Ruins (2/16)

I've posted chapter 16 (book 2) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

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