Review: Lucinda’s Secret

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Lucinda’s Secret by Holly Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The more you know, the more danger you’re in.

And trust me, you don’t want to meddle with the Little People.”

This is the third book of the Spiderwick Chronicles.

Grace siblings have a heated argument over Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide. Since Jared finds and gets engrossed in the book, many weird and freakish things happen around them: a bunch of hostile Goblins kidnapping Simon, a griffin staying on their carriage house, a berserk house boggart making mischiefs, and God knows what else.

Maybe it is time for them to destroy the book and the danger it entails. Or maybe it is time for them to learn it more from someone who knows the book and the writer: the daughter of the said writer, their own great aunt, Lucinda Spiderwick, who resides in an asylum.

They learn much more from the visit: that their aunt may not be a lunatic at all, that Arthur Spiderwick may be still alive somewhere, that there is a particular being who wants the book for the information inside, and that they must be smarter than any fairies to survive.

What I do like from this book:

  • It is good to find out that Lucinda isn’t a mere mentioned name in the whole story, but rather an important character in the plot. But I truly pity her. When she is still a little girl, her father’s gone missing without telling her and the rest of the family where he will go and whether he will ever come back. Then the faeries keep abusing her up to the point where she should leave her house to stay in an asylum with a hunched back forever. She can’t tell anybody the truth and she even can’t enjoy human food anymore. If Arthur is still alive, I hope the three Grace children will tell him some words about how he is being a bad father to the innocent Lucinda and that he owes the biggest apology ever to his daughter.
  • The elves make their appearance!! From all kinds of Faeries in fairy tales, I love the elves the most. It is always said that they are the only kind with the closest appearance to human kind, except their slightly pointed ears and wings. And usually, they are far more beautiful than human kind, even the male ones.

What I don’t like from this book:

  • The cliffhanger. Lucinda, the elves, and the Phooka seems to hint that Arthur Spiderwick is indeed still alive and somehow is held captive in Faeries’ world, in the same manner the elves want to keep Jared forever with them in exchange of the guide. And I’m dying to know the truth.
  • It is clearly said in the first book that Lucinda has let the Grace stay in the house. Helen even clearly tells the children, “If your great-aunt Lucinda hadn’t let us stay, I don’t know where we would have gone.” So, I find it a bit strange that Lucinda seems horrified to know that Helen and her children have been staying in her house, as if she never knows about it and never allows them to stay there.

Review: The Seeing Stone

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The Seeing Stone by Holly Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“We said no still you looked

Now instead

Someone gets cooked.”

This is the second book of the Spiderwick Chronicles.

Every action has its own consequences. Ignoring Thimbletack’s warning to destroy the field guide by Arthur Spiderwick, now Jared must deal with the problems caused by his stubbornness.

They begin with Simon, his twin, losing his cat and asking him to help him find the pet. Refusing, Jared goes to the library to look through the pages of Arthur’s journal when he witnesses an invisible force drags Simon to the woods. An awful understanding dawns on him: his twin is held captive by magical creatures that have mistaken Simon for him. Thimbletack’s warning comes true.

With the help of their older sister, Mallory, and the Seeing Stone that enables them to see what can’t be seen before, Jared goes into the woods to save his twin and catches sight of many magical creatures from the field guide in flesh, living in the vicinity unnoticeably.

What I do like from this book:

  • Though Mallory seems to be a bad older sister who loves to make unpleasant remarks to her twin brothers, she actually cares for them. Well, I’m not sure whether it’s her character or just because it’s an urgent and unusual matter, but I like her decision to turns around and saves Jared from the goblins trying to drag him when she almost reaches the safety.
  • Listen! Listen! You can see the magical creatures by having one spits to your eyes! I know it’s gross to have spit on your eyes, but you only need to have it once to be able to see the magic around you for the rest of your life. Isn’t that fascinating? Well, I know, the Seeing Stone is much more compromising, but it seems that the thing is only one-of-a-kind, meaning, we need to get back to the spit.
  • This book also includes a clipping from Pennsylvania newspaper reporting the “disappearance” of Arthur Spiderwick’s older brother, Theodore, in 1885, found among his papers (I do believe that the authors mean the real Arthur Spiderwick). It said that the local police believed that the boy was another victim of the bear attacks that had claimed the lives of other three children. It also included how Arthur, who was 8 at that time and apparently the witness of the attack, claimed that the bear was at least seven feet tall, with huge fangs, and looked like a troll. The police deemed Arthur to be severely affected and distressed and that his imagination must be running wild with all of the confusion and speculation surrounding the disappearance. I wonder which one says the truth. It is not uncommon that adults tend to not truly listen to or believe in what a child says, particularly if it doesn’t make sense. They will always blame it to a child’s imagination. Have a child witnesses a murdering scene and reports it to a policeman, the first thing comes to mind will be, “does this child just pull a prank on me?”. Whether the policeman will believe in the child or not is another matter. Have a child and an adult witnesses the similar crime, I bet the police will prefer the adult’s words rather than the child’s. So, imagine what adults will say when a child telling them that a troll lives in this world. The child must be imagining things. The child is unwell. And so on. It’s not that I’m on his side or anything. Maybe the adults are right, that the child was too shocked he couldn’t entirely understand what he did see. Maybe the child had a spectacular imagination that he could even see a normal man growing horns and wings. I am just curious whether somewhere at some time a child just reveals that there are other things beside humans living in the same planet and people just diminish the possibility of discovering a new world. It is too bad that the clipping doesn’t mention whether the disappearance is caused by something that can be explained by common sense.
  • I need to give a big hug and pat for Simon. Lose a cat, bring a griffin home. Well done, Simon.

What I don’t like from this book:

  • To be honest, I am a cat person. And it’s totally a big no for me to have a cat suffers in any way, let alone dies. So, I’m not particularly happy to find out the fate of Tibbs the cat, to be cooked and feasted by a bunch of Goblins. It’s not that I prefer it to happen to Simon instead, but still, isn’t this book for children? Am I wrong to have a child’s innocent wish to have Jared manages to rescue the cat and takes him back safely to their home?

Matchmaking

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By Enelis C

Words are poison. If you have ever heard that saying but do not believe it, you might want to read this story further. Here, I will show you how poisonous words are to human mind.

It began when Rosalie approached me and talked to me out of the blue:

“I think Ethan is in love with you.”

It was a sunny day, too hot actually, that people tended to spend the day by slacking or being lazy. Well, at least, that was what I was doing at that time. I was sitting on my favourite stool at my favourite cafe drinking my favourite drink (non alcoholic, I assure you) and reading my favourite magazine when my favourite bartender dropped the bomb. Fortunately, I wasn’t drinking. Otherwise, I would get choked to my death (okay, that’s impossible). But still, unfortunately, I wasn’t ready and did not expect the statement that I was pretty sure I got very red even without looking at my reflection in the mirror.

“Wha-what are you saying? That’s absurd,” I said haltingly.

“He seems to care so much about you and he looks at you differently.”

“Well… That’s because we’re best friends.”

“Still, he’s a good guy for you. Why not dating him? I think it is time for you to have a boyfriend,” she winked.

“Well… I might think about that,” I laughed, rather hysterically, then moved away as fast as possible to avoid further conversation.

When I wanted to leave, I accidentally listened to (and eventually eavesdropped on) a very intriguing discussion among some boys from Red Dormitory.

“I think our Ethan is in love.”

My ears were standing upright upon hearing Ethan’s name.

“He keeps talking about this particular girl.”

“Do you know who she is?”

“No idea. I bet she is the one who always hangs around him a lot.”

I flushed. Were they talking about… me? Was the girl they mention… ME? Nah, that’s impossible. Ethan and I had been best buddies since our childhood. There was no way he falls in love with me. Or… was it possible? I thought about what Rosalie said over and over, not paying attention to my walking out of the cafe, until I bumped into…

“ETHAN!!!” I screamed.

“What?!” He flinched. “You’re screaming like you’ve seen a ghost!”

No. It’s just that you showed up at the wrong time. But I didn’t say it out loud.

Ethan looked at me closely. Too close that I could feel my cheeks heating.

“You’re so red. Are you okay?” He reached out to touch my forehead.

I pushed his hand away rather roughly.

“Nothing! I’m fine!”

For crying out loud, what happened to me? It must be the heat. From the sun, I meant.

“If you said so,” he said doubtfully. “Anyway, I’m glad to meet you here. I was looking for you.”

“Eh? F- for what?” I stuttered. The heat crept back to my face.

“Meet me under the usual cherry tree at the park tonight. There’s something important I want to tell you,” he blushed and walked away casually into the cafe.

I was paralyzed for a moment. He… blushed? He BLUSHED? Ethan never BLUSHED! Oh my God! I hope the earth opened up and swallowed me whole!

Breathe, Luna, breathe. There must be some explanations for that blush. Maybe it was because the sun playing trick on my eyes. Maybe the heat got me and made me seeing things. But, what Rosalie and the boys said in the cafe kept repeating themselves over and over. What if? No! NO! BIG NO! And again, Ethan asked me to meet him tonight to tell me something important? What would it be if it’s not a confession?

Three hours to go.

I kept pacing in circle in my room. What should I do if he was truly in love with me? What should I do if he confessed his feeling to me? I grabbed my head with both hands. It’s not that I did not like him. I liked him a lot. But not in that way. Just thinking about us being more than friend had given me a stupid headache.

Okay, this’s what I was going to do. I would meet him there and act casually like there’s nothing wrong. Everything was as normal as usual. I would tell him that I loved having him as a friend and it would be best for us to stay as friends. Nothing more. The end. That’s what I decided when I chose the clothes for the meeting.

Two hours to go.

Hmm, I guessed I would go with black since it suited me well. But red would make me look cuter. Ugh! What was I thinking right now?! I went to the mirror and looked at my reflection. Maybe I would put some make up for tonight. And could I do something with that blonde straight hair? It was too ordinary. Ahh! Take a grip, Luna.

One hour and a half later, I left the academy and started walking to the park. The sun had set completely, allowing soft breeze cooling the land. At the corner of the street, I saw Angelina walking her dog. She waved.

“Hai, Luna,” she greeted. Her eyes widened as she’s getting closer. “Wow, you look so beautiful. Going for a date or something?”

Somebody takes a gun and please shoots me in the heart.

***

Ethan had been waiting under the tree, gazing at the sky. He was completely lost in thought. It was so rare to see. Aw, he’s so cute. Oh my God! Stop it, Luna!

“Ethan, what’s up?” I called. Please get it over with or I might lose my sanity soon.

Ethan looked at me. He opened his mouth, but no words were out. Instead, he stared at me. “What are you wearing?”

“It’s nothing. Just say what you want to say!” I snapped, flustered by his attention.

“Well…” he began. “It’s kinda embarrassing…” He scratched his head and looked away.

I KNOW IT! HE’S GONNA TO CONFESS! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?

“Actually… I promise Anna I will bring her a Duskshade Firefly, but I don’t know how to find one. So, I want to ask your help since you are a Green Mage.” He smiled sheepishly.

One minute passed. Two. Three. Everything was silent as if time had stopped moving. Then the loud sound of my palm met his cheek echoed. I turned away stomping in embarrassment and relief, leaving him stunned behind. Stupid me. Stupid Ethan. To think I got so worked up over nothing. What a great job you had done, Luna!!!

Several days later, somehow, Rosalie approached me again at the same situation with the same intention.

“I think Nick is in love with you, Luna.”

I only looked up from my magazine and said, “Will you please leave me alone?”

The End

Review: The Field Guide

The Field Guide

The Field Guide by Holly Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“In a man’s torso you will find
My secret to all mankind
It false and true can be the same
You will soon know of my fame
Up and up and up again
Good luck dear friend.”

Spiderwick Estate is not a grand place to move in to. But their mother and father have just divorced, so 13-year-old Mallory Grace and 9-year-old identical twin brothers Jared and Simon Grace should be grateful that their great-aunt Lucinda Spiderwick let them live in that house.

However, Spiderwick Estate is not mysterious in appearance and name only. The old house holds greatest secret of humankind. Starting from their curiousity to find what they suspect a rabbit moving inside the wall, they stumble upon secret ways leading to a secret library where Jared finds a hidden old dusty book titled: Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. There begins their adventure in a dark and fascinating world of Faeries.

What I do like from this book:
• What’s not to like about the world of Faeries? For young readers, particularly children, a world of Faeries is a world to be liked or attracted to? Am I right?
• I always love the idea of an old and big house with many secrets. You don’t need to find your adventure somewhere else.
• Up to this point, I still wonder about the truth of this series. In the first pages of the book, the authors put a letter from the Grace kids, implying that the three kids along with the book and the Faeries and the misfortunes they encounter are real deal. To what extent that the story is real? Is the entire story real? If the book does exist, I truly want to have it.
• This is the perfect book for quick reading. Of course, it is meant for young readers, but still, I still enjoy reading it even though I read it when I was a teenager. The illustrations are terrifically well done, making the book more enjoyable to read.

What I don’t like from this book:
• Jared seems the most troublesome kid in the family. Even so, I truly pity him that everyone else in the family keep blaming him for all the misfortunes happened at that house. I mean, is he really that troublesome that he dares to put such a cruel prank to his own sister no matter how he might be angry at her after the argument they had last night? Indeed, there is nobody (human) else in that house, but is it too much to blame him just because he’s the most likely culprit? Scratching your sister’s arm, tying your sister’s hair to her bed end, pouring chocolate syrup and orange juice down the floor, throwing eggs at the windows, throwing plates and glasses over the floor, and laying food leftovers everywhere are much too cruel and nasty for pranks by a 9-year-old boy.

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Review: The Immortal Rules

The Immortal Rules
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“We are vampires. It makes no difference who we are, where we came from. Princes, Masters and rabids alike, we are monsters, cut off from humanity. They will never trust us. They will never accept us. We hide in their midst and walk among them, but we are forever separate. Damned. Alone. You don’t understand now, but you will. There will come a time when the road before you splits, and you must decide your path. Will you choose to become a demon with a human face, or will you fight your demon until the end of time, knowing you will forever struggle alone?”

This is a journey of a young girl to find her humanity while being an undead…

The world as we know it has ended when Red Lung attacks. Flulike symptoms evolve to raging fever, necrosis of the lungs, and finally asphyxiation as the victims choke and drown in their own blood. A worldwide emergency is called, towns are emptied, cities lay in ruins, and the airborne virus continues its deadly march toward human extinction. To make it worse, the few remaining humans face another catastrophe when researches conducted to find the cure have gone wrong. The mutated virus doesn’t only kill its victim; it turns the victims into Rabids: mindless bloodthirsty corpses with fangs. Concerned with the depletion of the human population as their sources of food, vampires devise a way to keep the few remaining humans close and create a never-ending food supply in exchange for protection from Rabids. This is the world where vampires reign…

“In this world, you were either strong, or you were dead. You did what you had to if you wanted to survive.”

Allison Sekemoto does everything she can to survive in this mess-up world, but living as a blood cattle in a vampire city is not her way. Instead, she chooses to live a dangerous and risky life in the fringes with her small group of four, scavenging food during the day and hiding from vampires and Rabids during the night. Her hatred towards the vampires gives her the strength to endure and survive such life, until one night her groups are attacked by Rabids and she realizes her frail mortality. She is only given two choices: to die as a human or to live as the demon she despises the most.

“You are a monster. You will always be a monster, there is no turning back from it. But what type of monster you become is entirely up to you.”

Allie has to learn the rules about vampires and immortality. She must accept the fact that even though she is alive, she is practically dead. She must learn how to move and fight with her new body and strength. She must change her perceptions about humans and accept humans’ perceptions about her now. But, the most important thing is she must face her greatest fear: to feed on human’s blood. The humanity left inside Allie is in jeopardy. And she realizes that if she doesn’t want to lose to the hunger inside her and become a monster completely, she must strive and struggle hard…

“I’m not like you. I’m not like the vampires in the city. I might be a monster, but I can be human, too. I can choose to be human.”

Forced to flee from the vampire city, she meets a group of pilgrims seeking for Eden, a legendary safe haven rumored to be run by humans only. Unaware of her nature, the groups let her join them on the long and dangerous road. Once again, her humanity is tested when her nature is revealed and she is expelled from the group. Once again, Allie must decide what and who is worth dying for when the group is captured by a group of raiders led by a vampire. And for the very first time, she learns that she shouldn’t have fallen in love with a human…

What I do love from this book
• Honestly, I never thought I would read this series ever. First, the covers are unpromising. Well, BIG NOs. Second, the vampire is the heroine. Well, I love stories about vampires, but I prefer the male vampires as the main character rather than a female one. The idea of a strong female vampire ends up with a weak human boy is totally unappealing to me (yeah, somehow I prefer the male character to be more dominant than the female character). But I love Julie Kagawa’s books, especially the Iron Fey series, and it portraits a less dominant heroine who in the end turns to be more dominant than her lover, and I’m still madly in love with the story. So I thought, why not give Blood of Eden a chance? After reading the series, I HAVE NO REGRET. If I should have any, it will be: WHY DIDN’T I READ THE BOOKS SOONER?
• This is a series about vampire, but it is more than that. It is more about self-exploration and self-development, packaged into a dark twisted story that runs so smoothly from beginning to the end, with some romance and action that do not take over the main focus of the story. Are you tired of cheesy, feeble, and worthless plot for shallow entertainment offered by many young adult books? Are you tired of reading inner dialogue of stupid and inconsistent heroine who always in need of saving? Are you tired of bad boy as the main hero of a story? And are you tired of finding that bad boy unbelievably and impossibly end up together with the stupid heroine? If you are, I recommend you to read this series, because it offers you none of those. Believe me.
• The first most intriguing about this series is: the setting of time. I have read so many books about vampires and they always take place in the past time or present time. Ancient setting or modern setting. Blood of Eden is beyond my expectation and imagination. A dystopian and post-apocalyptic setting? Well, this is totally new for me, but no less magnificent than the usual ones, if not more.
• The second most intriguing fact: THE REAL VAMPIRE IS BACK!! Julie Kagawa portrays the vampires as they should be: a true monster and predator inflicting fear on humans, not some friendly and hospitable immortals coexisting with humans portrayed in some young adult stories, which sadly, make them look less vampiric. The vampires are dangerous bloodsucker with great strength and speed and fast healing who can’t walk under then sun without being burnt to ashes, afraid of fire and stakes, and must drink human blood to survive. If they ignore the last fact, the hunger and bloodlust will consume them and turn them into a monster. Even Kanin implies that one day, intentionally or not, Allie will kill a human, no matter how hard she tries not to. Yayy. Real vampire should be like that!
• Allie is a hard-ass character and I like her so much. Life is being so cruel to her yet she doesn’t give up, doesn’t cry or something like a damsel in distress. No. She’s not a kind of girl who waits for her prince charming to save the day. No. She’s not the kind of girl constantly in need of saving. No. She’s strong, capable, brave, and independent. She’s the one coming to save the others instead. She’s loyal and consistent. Even in the world when you must be self-oriented to survive, she does still prioritize others over herself, even when it costs her life. Even if she can choose an easy way by giving in to the hunger and becoming a monster, she still struggles and sticks to her principle to not be a monster. Her life is full of hardship but she always faces it strongly. As far as I know, Allison Sekemoto is a perfect heroine I ever meet in young adult fictions.
• At first, I don’t put too much hope and expectation for Allie’s love interest, Ezekiel Crosse, or Zeke. What is a mere human compared to vampire who is far superior after all? But Zeke changes my mind completely since the very first time he meets Allie. Even though it’s always Allie who comes to his rescue, I never get the impression that Zeke is powerless, dependent, or weak. Far from that. He might not have Allie’s physical superiority but he has great faith, humanity, and generosity, things that Allie lacks of. They complete each other. In the end, I can’t help but admit that Allie’s lover indeed should be a human because without Zeke, Allie might not be able to find her self-actualization and preserve her humanity.
• Kanin: Oh how I love this man. A Master vampire who turns out to be the mastermind of the experiment on vampires to find the cure for Red Lung leading to the spread of Rabidism to the world. Sire of Allison who is deeply tormented and feeling guilty, wandering to find redemption, to atone for his sins. Yet, his words, demeanors, attitudes, behaviors, everything, are the epitome of an ancient vampire. I love the way he offers Allie immortality. I love the way he teaches her the rules of vampire world. I love his strength. He takes bullets into his chest like they are nothing. But I’m so sad when he must be separated from Allie and hope to read more about him in the next books.
• Caleb. The young boy somehow intrigues me. He is the reason why Allie meets Zeke. He is the only human, besides Zeke, who accepts the fact that Allie is a vampire but still believes in her good nature. He spends his time with Allie shorter than Stick, but he doesn’t judge Allie a monster just because she is a vampire. For an innocent young boy who has been convinced by the adults around him that a vampire is a monster, he has a truly big heart.

What I don’t like from this book
• Stick. It can be said that he is the opposite character of Allie. A boy, weak, dependent, cry-baby, and everything that Allison is not. Allie tries her best to protect and care for him, even when it costs her life. For what? For nothing. Not only he accuses Allie to be a monster, despite everything that she has done for him, he also betrays her, leading to her separation from Kanin.
• Ruth. I never understand her hatred toward Allie, even long before she knows that Allie is a vampire. Is that her nature to be suspicious of and jealous of any girls of her age coming to the group and speaking with Zeke? Because, it seems that her being bitchy to Allison is for no reason other than Zeke. Normally, a nasty character like this is needed to show the good side of the main heroine. But, honestly, Allison is doing fine even without her. So, I should say that her appearance in the story is worthless. Well, don’t blame me to be very glad when she is dead a painful death, though I pity Caleb for losing her only sister.
• I know that this series is darker than most of young adult books, involving violence and gore, which means that the death of one or more characters shouldn’t be a big deal. However, I feel a bit disappointed that the small group of pilgrims becomes smaller, especially when it turns out that Eden does exist. The most upsetting deaths are those of Jeb and Darren, particularly Darren. How I hope that he and Ruth exchange positions.
• Why oh why oh why Zeke should kiss Allie in front of the others while they have been terrified-over-heels with her being a vampire? It’s not that I dislike it, but can’t he do it when they are alone? I mean, there are so many chances when he is alone with Allie. Why should the first kiss they share be witnessed by others?
• The ending. Yes. It actually lies in the gray area between happy ending and sad ending. On one hand, Allie and Zeke manage to save their group from Jackal’s hold and bring them to Eden. However, as a city without vampire, Eden also symbolizes the painful reality: that a vampire cannot be together with a human. So in the end, after they, especially Allie, overcome their hesitation about their love and their difference, they should be separated? It’s not fair.
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Review: Case Closed, Vol. 5

Case Closed, Vol. 5
Case Closed, Vol. 5 by Gosho Aoyama

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I’m high-school detective Shinichi Kudo. When I went to an amusement park with my childhood friend and classmate, Ran Mouri, I saw a suspicious transaction between some men in black. While I was watching the deal, I didn’t notice another man in black coming at me from behind. The man gave me some poison, and when I woke up… My body had shrunk! If they found out that Shinichi Kudo was still alive, they will come after me and put people around me in danger. Following Professor Agasa’s advice to hide my true identity, I blurted out ‘Conan Edogawa’ when Ran asked for my name. In order to get more information on the men in black, I decided to stay with Ran whose father is a private detective. However, because her father is such a lousy detective, I’ve been using my own deductive ability to solve cases for him. Thanks to me, he’s a famous detective. I may have shrunk, but my intellect is still that of a great detective. There is always only one truth!”

This book consists of two finished cases and one unfinished case.

The first case is a brutal mutilation case. Close the book immediately if you can’t stomach a dismembered corpse.
Ran and Conan are invited to one of the mountain villa of Suzuki family by Sonoko Suzuki, the second daughter happened to be Ran’s best friend and classmate. They meet with other guests invited to the villa belonging to the same film club as the first daughter of the family, Ayako, minus a girl dead about two years ago. The mention of her name raises the tension in the room somehow. Before Conan truly grasp the truth about the death, one of the members of the club has gone missing and the body is found brutally murdered in the forest in such terrible state. Is the murderer one of the rest members of the club or the suspicious bandaged man which some of them encounter on their way to the villa? Why the murderer is determined to make Ran the second victim? This will be the first case portraying the birth of Deduction Queen Sonoko.

The second case is a tragic poisoning case because of a misunderstanding.
Through her father’s connections, Sonoko gets a lucky chance to meet her favorite singer, Tatsuya Kimura. She invites Ran and Conan to accompany her and together they enjoy a karaoke session with the singer, his manager and band mates. Unfortunately, the joyful session ends when Tatsuya starts to criticize and insults the others when he is very drunk. Apparently, one of them cannot take his insults very well since the singer starts coughing blood and collapses to his death after eating the served food. Yet, the evidence found on Tatsuya’s car brings another possibility. Is it homicide or suicide? This is the very first time Conan uses his true identity as Shinichi to solve the case after being shrunk, through the speaker in the karaoke room.

The third case is a rather peculiar kidnapping case.
An unfamiliar woman comes to Mouri Agency and introduces herself as Conan’s mother to Ran who opens the door. Being worried with Conan’s parents not having tried to contact them regarding their son, Ran is very happy to return Conan to the lady. Later on her car, Conan confronts her about her true identity and to his dismay, the woman knows about his real parents: Shinichi Kudo’s parents. Now Conan is trapped in a very dangerous game. Are the woman and her partner, a masked man, really members of Black Organization? Can he stop their horrible plan to poison another target? Can he even escape from dangerous positions they keep putting him in with his current state?

What I do like from this book
• The first case. It is the first introduction of Sonoko Suzuki and I like how Aoyama shapes the character. Even though she is the daughter of a very wealthy family, somehow she is not a pompous princess. She goes to the same school Ran goes to (even though she can go to much better school). She has a good friendship with Ran, someone who’s not her caliber. She acts like a normal teenager, dreaming of finding a boy for her (even though she practically can have everything she asks for with her family’s wealth and power). Though she gets jealous and angry when the man she is interested with prefers Ran, somehow it doesn’t affect their friendship (since she still walks home – that’s true, she walks home, not being picked up by a limousine or something – with Ran and invites her to meet Tatsuya afterwards). She might a bit stupid and ignorant (similar to Kogoro’s reaction when he is impersonated by Conan for the first time) and some might think that those are not suitable characters for a princess, I can’t care less. She is perfect that way.

What I don’t like from this book
• I totally agree with Conan’s inner voice when Ran constantly stumbles upon men in various naked states while trying to find their room in the villa. Why can’t she knock first? I won’t truly question the first mistake, but to repeat it two more times consecutively is rather… annoying. I mean, when you are invited to your friend’s villa and you think you are the only one to be invited, you can do the same mistake when you are facing so many doors (but you can prevent it by asking which room prepared for you). If you unintentionally enter a room and find it occupied already, you will think that some other rooms have been occupied as well, won’t you? Therefore, you will knock first to ensure the room is empty or not, or like I have mentioned before, ask your friend which room is for you. Surprisingly, the three men are changing clothes in the same time. It is a bit illogical, yet I understand its intention to humour the readers. And it actually works.
• I cannot fathom the mental state of the murderer to be able to endure bringing the head of the victim inside his clothes, on his stomach, no less. It is gross. Really. But again, he is capable to behead the victim as well as cut off her one hand and one leg, so maybe he doesn’t mind having the beheaded head so close to his body. Furthermore, I can’t fathom his reason to cut off the hand and the leg as well. He needs the head to create an alibi for him, but what is the benefit of cutting the hand and the leg? If he truly wants to dismember the victim, why stop with cutting a hand and a leg?
• And why oh why the only handsome man in the first case is such a scaredy-cat? It makes the murderer looks a lot better than him.
• The tragedy of the second case. What a stupid girl the murderer is. She has plastic surgery to make her beautiful, in hope to please Tatsuya. However, he doesn’t act as she expects him to. Because of that, she chooses murder? Oh come on. Can’t she just ask or speak to Tatsuya about it? Don’t be so weak! Regardless, she still admits that she loves him after killing him. Bullshit. If she truly loves him, she will try to understand his change first. I think she kills him because of her stinging pride that Tatsuya treats her bad after she turns into a beautiful woman. Somebody should shout in her ears: you want Tatsuya’s love? Beautify your brain first before your face.
• Due to his recklessness in using his name to solve the second case, Ran waits for him in front of his house for hours, thinking that he has returned. Not wanting to disappoint her, Conan turns off the power in his house and touches Ran’s hand on the railing, pretending to be his old self. However, no matter what, he touches Ran with Conan’s hand, a hand of a child. Can’t Ran realize it? Obviously the size of Shinichi’s hand and Conan’s hand is different, and she is supposed to notice it even during the blackout. Should I just overlook it because love is blind?
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Review: Case Closed, Vol. 4

Case Closed, Vol. 4
Case Closed, Vol. 4 by Gosho Aoyama

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I’m high-school detective Shinichi Kudo. When I went to an amusement park with my childhood friend and classmate, Ran Mouri, I saw a suspicious transaction between some men in black. While I was watching the deal, I didn’t notice another man in black coming at me from behind. The man gave me some poison, and when I woke up… My body had shrunk! If they found out that Shinichi Kudo was still alive, they will come after me and put people around me in danger. Following Professor Agasa’s advice to hide my true identity, I blurted out ‘Conan Edogawa’ when Ran asked for my name. In order to get more information on the men in black, I decided to stay with Ran whose father is a private detective. However, because her father is such a lousy detective, I’ve been using my own deductive ability to solve cases for him. Thanks to me, he’s a famous detective. I may have shrunk, but my intellect is still that of a great detective. There is always only one truth!”

This book consists of three finished cases.

The first case is depicting the bloody and vicious artwork.

Superstitious phenomenon of walking armoured knight is rumoured to be happened in Beika Art Museum. Feeling curious, Ran persuades Conan and Kogoro to pay the museum a visit. Not only they find that the museum is almost devoid of visitors, they learn that the museum is on the verge of closing permanently. After a grand tour to the whole part of the museum, exhausting Conan and Kogoro, Ran notices another part of the museum they haven’t see yet, the Hell Gallery. There they find a scene taken from the hell itself, a gruesome bloody murder imitating ‘Divine Punishment’, a no less gruesome painting. The surveillance camera records the whole scene… revealing the impossible murderer: a walking armoured knight. A piece of paper written and thrown by the victim in his last moment shows the name of the murderer… Will the case be solved that easily?

The second case is Conan’s third encounter with Black Organization, where he learns the name code of the two men he met at the amusement park.

Kogoro, Ran, and Conan are on their way to Kyoto on a train for the wedding of Kogoro’s friend. When Conan leaves his seat to keep Kogoro from questioning his parents leaving him behind without news, he accidentally finds out that Gin and Vodka are on the same train! Using a miniature hidden microphone on his glasses, another gadget by Professor Agasa, he manages to eavesdrop their horrible plan to kill someone they are supposed to meet at that train along with other passengers with a time bomb inside a black suitcase given to that certain person. Failing to stop them from leaving the train, Conan now must be successful to find the bomb before the time limit from four suspicious passengers: a salesman, a career woman, a deaf old man, and a mean-looking gigantic man.

The third case is the second case featuring the Detective Boys: too-easy-for-children codes or too-difficult-for-adults codes?

Ayumi accidentally takes the wrong bag similar to her own when she goes to the restroom during her visit to a museum with Ran and other members of the Detective Boys. The bag has a strange paper inside with weird symbols and the word ‘ORO’. The children believe it will lead them to hidden treasure and begin to solve and follow the code. They are unaware that three suspicious men are always lurking behind them, watching and waiting for the children to solve the code and find the treasure for them.

What I do like from this book
• Ran’s fear of ghost. It’s kind of irony because she is strong enough to punch a hole into the wall without even flinching.
• Shinichi, by any means, is a master of acting. He cleverly plays innocent acts of a child either to solve a case or to convince Ran that he is truly a 7-years-old boy. He can even do that in the presence of Black Organization. Poor Ran, though, who has no idea about Conan’s dilemma. She just thinks that Conan is a naughty child that she should keep watching for.
• This is the first case where the Detective Boys run into a dangerous case, since they deal with a gang of foreign thief. Yet somehow, they can beat the dangerous adults, the armed ones, no less, proving that the weakest can win against the strongest with the power of wit.
• My favorite scene in the second case: when Conan tries to find the certain person with the bomb from Gin and Vodka, and accidentally drop the black suitcase of the gigantic-looking man, only to reveal that the suitcase contains a large amount of cute underwear.

What I don’t like from this book
• The first case involves too much blood and violence for any children to stomach. Even the adults cannot truly tolerate the live recording of the murder. Yet, Megure, Mouri and several police let Conan (or maybe they do not notice him there) check the surveillance camera with them. Ran, who is also present at the crime scene, isn’t seen to watch it, but somehow she forgets about Conan.
• In the second case, Conan kicks the suitcase containing the bomb to prevent the bomb explodes in the bullet train. The bomb flies and explodes outside, far enough to not harm anybody. However, shouldn’t the bomb explode when Conan makes contact with the suitcase? Gin warns that the bomb will explode due to strong impact. So why the bomb is not explode even when Conan kicks it using his power-enhanced shoes?
• In the end of third case, Inspector Megure is shown to pat the children while smiling widely, thanking them for capturing the rest of the gang of the thief. However, shouldn’t he (and other policemen) reprimand or yell at the children as well? It happens at night and it is surely not the time for children to be outside without any adult with them, even though there are five of them. Moreover, none of their parents or guardians calls the police to report that the children are not home yet. Isn’t it strange? They’re only first graders; shouldn’t they be home after sunset?
• Though I find it funny, I also find that the children’s imagination about how they will be killed by the gang terrifying. What kind of TV programs that they watch or books they read? How could children of 7 years old think about being killed by being burnt and sunk? I don’t think children supposed to know about being shot with a gun either.
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