Sunday, September 12, 2021

REVIEW: Punderworld (graphic novel, vol. 1) by Linda Sejic

Punderworld is a Greek mythology comic serialized on Webtoon. I bought my copy of this volume brand new.

Review:

Hades has been lovesick for Persephone for a century or two, but he's always been too shy to do anything about it. Plus, Persephone's mother, Demeter, is well-known for her stony attitude towards any of her daughter's potential suitors. And surely someone like Persephone would never be interested in a guy like Hades, her complete opposite.

Except she's definitely interested. But she doesn't even know who he is, and all her overprotective mother will tell her is that he's some minor god. It seems like the two will never get a chance to really spend some time with each other, until Zeus gets involved and does a little meddling.

REVIEW: Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto (audiobook) by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon, narrated by the authors

Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto is nonfiction. I listened to it through OverDrive.

Review:

This book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the New Horizons interplanetary space probe: what it took to get it funded, the work necessary to get the public excited about Pluto and the mission, some of the decision-making processes along the way, and more.

I didn't write it down, but I believe the primary narrator for this was David Grinspoon - Alan Stern also narrated a bit, but only small sections. (Or I mixed up the names and it's actually the reverse.) Although the narration wasn't terrible, and definitely communicated how exciting and nerve-wracking this mission was, I found myself wishing that it had been narrated by someone else. It took me longer than it should have to get through this book, two checkout periods, and my slight dislike of the narration was part of the reason why. Grinspoon's voice didn't quite work for me.

Monday, September 6, 2021

REVIEW: Library Technology Buying Strategies (nonfiction book) edited by Marshall Breeding

Library Technology Buying Strategies is a nonfiction book I read for work-related reasons. I got it via interlibrary loan.

Review:

I read Library Technology Buying Strategies partly to learn more about RFPs (request for proposal) and partly hoping to find tips for evaluating different integrated library systems (ILSs). It provided some of what I was looking for, but not quite in the way I'd hoped, and its organization was odd.

It started with a couple excellent chapters on RFPs - how they're structured, what questions a library needs to answer when writing one, and how to write one, including tips from vendor bid writers. These chapters made me exceedingly glad that I haven't been asked to write an RFP, although they provide excellent information that would make being asked to write one slightly less terrifying (librarytechnology.org, maintained by Marshall Breeding, is mentioned as a source of RFP examples, as well as lots of other library technology infrormation).

The rest of the book is more of a mixed bag. Chapters 3 and 4 cover resource sharing (interlibrary loan, consortial resource sharing) and the technological issues libraries need to consider. Chapters 5 and 6 cover cloud computing solutions (website hosting, server hosting, data storage, SaaS, ASP, PaaS, the pros and cons of cloud computing vs. local systems management, etc.). Chapter 7 covers library services platforms, which are a type of library resource management system that take a different approach than traditional ILSs. Some examples are Ex Libris' Alma, OCLC WorldShare Management Services, Kuali OLE, and Sierra. Breeding also considers SirsiDynix's BLUEcloud suite to be a library services platform, although at the moment it still relies on libraries to be using either SirsiDynix's Horizon or Symphony ILSs. The final chapter covers criteria to consider when purchasing e-book platforms.

REVIEW: Invisible Differences: A Story of Asperger's, Adulting and Living a Life in Full Color (graphic novel) story by Julie Dachez, adaptation, illustration, and colors by Mademoiselle Caroline, inspired by and in collaboration with Fabienne Vaslet

Invisible Differences: A Story of Asperger's, Adulting, and Living a Life in Full Color is, from what I can determine, an at least semi-autobiographical graphic novel. The main character is named Marguerite, but I'm fairly certain her experiences are based on Julie Dachez's own experiences with being diagnosed with Asperger's.

The story takes place somewhere in France. Marguerite is 27, has an office job she doesn't enjoy, and a routine she rarely deviates from. Her happiest time is when she's at home with her cats and little dog. Unfortunately, at work she's considered rude for not making smalltalk with people or going out to lunch with her coworkers. The open office plan makes it impossible for her to concentrate, and Marguerite's preference for loose and comfortable clothing is viewed as unprofessional. Her personal life isn't necessarily peaceful either - her boyfriend Florian wants her to go out with him more, but social situations exhaust her.

Eventually Marguerite is diagnosed with Asperger's and finds it liberating. It reassures her that there's nothing wrong with her - she's just different.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

REVIEW: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept.: The Complete Series (anime TV series)

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. is a political thriller that feels like a slice-of-life story, or occasionally even like a strange comedy. It was an impulse purchase during a Right Stuf sale. I hadn't heard anything about it and wasn't expecting much from it, so it was a pleasant surprise when it turned out to be really good.

That said, I spent a good portion of the beginning of the series with no clue what kind of show I was watching. ACCA takes place on an island composed of 13 territories, each with a vastly different culture and way of life. ACCA is an organization that was originally created to protect the kingdom's peace and guard against the threat of a coup d'etat. Jean Otus, a member of ACCA's Inspection Department, travels to each of the 13 territories and attempts to figure out whether there's really a coup brewing in this seemingly peaceful land. What he doesn't initially realize, however, is that his actions are being interpreted by nearly everyone around him as signs that he's involved in the supposed coup.

Was the coup real, or a paranoid bureaucratic fantasy? Was I watching some kind of absurdist comedy or an actual political thriller that just happened to contain frequent snack breaks?

Monday, August 30, 2021

REVIEW: Giant Spider & Me: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale (manga, vol. 1) by Kikori Morino, translated by Adrienne Beck

Giant Spider & Me is a post-apocalyptic slice-of-life story. I bought my copy of this volume brand new.

Review:

Twelve-year-old Nagi lives alone in the little house she and her father moved into three years ago. Her father likes to go exploring, but it's been longer than usual since Nagi last heard from him. Still, she tries to stay cheerful, taking care of her garden, making good food, and occasionally going to the nearby village market.

Then one day she encounters an enormous spider. She's scared at first, but it seems friendly, so she feeds it, names it "Asa," and begins trying to learn more about it and communicate with it.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

REVIEW: Play It Cool, Guys (manga, vol. 1) by Kokone Nata, translated by Amanda Haley

Play It Cool, Guys is a slice-of-life comedy series. I got this volume via interlibrary loan.

Review:

This full-color manga stars four different "clumsy-cool" guys: Hayate Ichikura (age 20, college student), the "embarrassed and introspective" type; Shun Futami (age 17, high school student), the "bluffing stoic" type; Takayuki Mima (age 27, working adult), the "unaware and unaffected" type; and Souma Shiki (age 19, vocational college student), the "self-accepting positive" type. Each guy is introduced with examples of how they manage to remain cool despite being awkward or clumsy, and each section transitions to the next guy by having the previous one bump into the new one. By the last few chapters, however, their paths start to cross in more significant ways.

REVIEW: My Hero Academia, Season One (anime TV series)

My Hero Academia is a superhero series based on a manga of the same title. I bought my copy of this season brand new.

Review:

In the world of this series, people started mysteriously developing superpowers, called Quirks, some time ago. Now 80% of the world has them, and they're seen as normal.

Izuku Midoriya has looked up to the hero All Might since he was a child and always wanted to be just like him, so it was a huge blow when a doctor told him that he was Quirkless. Now that he's older, it's still his dream to attend U.A. High School, the top school for prospective heroes, but is that even possible for someone without a Quirk? Then one day he encounters All Might, learns his hero's biggest secret, and is gifted powers that could make his dream a reality, if he can ever figure out how to control them.

REVIEW: At War with Yourself (graphic novel) by Samuel C. Williams

At War with Yourself is a nonfiction graphic novel about the author's friend's experiences with PTSD. It was one of my library checkouts.

Review:

Samuel C. Williams is a UK-based illustrator and comic artist who decides, with his friend Matt's permission and approval, to make a graphic novel about Matt's experiences with PTSD. As he and Matt walk, Matt talks about things like his PTSD symptoms, the way his military training has played into some of those symptoms, his triggers, and the way therapy helped him understand what was going on with him and learn practical calming mechanisms. His wife also briefly talks about Matt's sometimes very violent dreams.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

REVIEW: Sunshine Cleaning (live action movie)

Sunshine Cleaning is a 2008 drama. I bought my copy brand new.

Review:

In high school, Rose was a popular cheerleader with a handsome boyfriend. Years later, she's a single mom who works for a cleaning service. She tells everyone she's taking real estate classes when in reality she's meeting up with her old high school boyfriend, who's now a married cop. When her son's behavior gets him kicked out of school, she decides to try her hand at crime scene cleaning, because she heard it was lucrative and the money could help her get him into a good private school. She can't do it alone, so she enlists her sister's help.

What starts off as a way to make some cash turns into something more, as both sisters think more deeply about their lives, their relationships, and their memories of their mother.

REVIEW: Sudden Position Guide to Acquisitions (nonfiction book) by Deborah Hathaway, Paul Kelsey, Stacey Marien, and Susan E. Thomas

Sudden Position Guide to Acquisitions is nonfiction. I read it for work-related reasons and got my copy via interlibrary loan.

Review:

Don't let this book's slim size fool you - it's an excellent resource, and I can't recommend it highly enough for someone who's either just gotten their first job as an Acquisitions Librarian or who has suddenly had Acquisitions duties added on to their regular duties. I was facing the latter situation when I originally requested this via ILL, and if library administration hadn't suddenly changed their mind and given those duties to someone else, I'd have purchased a copy and kept it on hand as I tried to learn my new job. As it is, I'd like to own a copy simply because it's helpful for understanding work that overlaps somewhat with my own (I'm a cataloger).

Monday, August 16, 2021

REVIEW: The Cat Proposed (manga) by Dento Hayane, translated by Katie Kimura

The Cat Proposed is a fantasy BL one-shot manga. It's licensed by Tokyopop. I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes spoilers.

Review: 

Souta is so overworked he's to the point of considering suicide. He snaps out of it, barely, and finds himself taking a detour to listen to a kodan storyteller. As the storyteller transitions to a story about a bakeneko, a type of supernatural cat that can transform into a human, Souta sees the storyteller briefly transform into a bakeneko. He figures it's just exhaustion, until the storyteller, Kihachi, confirms it and says that they're now both bound by bakeneko rules. Souta must agree to become Kihachi's mate and not reveal the existence of bakeneko to other humans, or both he and Kihachi will be killed.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

REVIEW: Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (manga, vol. 1) by Motoro Mase, translated by John Werry

Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit is dystopian psychological fiction. It's licensed by VIZ. I bought this volume used.

Review:

Content warning for this volume: on-page bullying and rape.

In this version of Japan, there's something called the National Welfare Act. In elementary school, all children are vaccinated against various diseases. Some of the injections include a special nanocapsule that eventually comes to rest in the child's pulmonary artery, where it ruptures on a specified day and time, at some point between their 18th and 24th birthday. No one knows who has a capsule inside them, and the goal is to make citizens value their lives more and increase their productivity. Any citizens who object to this system are immediately injected with a capsule.

Fujimoto has just started working as a messenger, one of the people whose job is to deliver ikigami, death papers. These are given to citizens 24 hours before they're scheduled to die, so that they may better appreciate their last 24 hours. The families they leave behind will be given a bereavement pension, unless they choose to spend their last 24 hours committing crimes, in which case there is no bereavement pension and the family must pay large fines as compensation.

This particular volume features the delivery of two ikigami, one to a man who was bullied so severely when he was in high school that it derailed his entire life, and one to a young singer/guitarist who has lost sight of what's really important to him in his quest to become famous.

REVIEW: Sweet Admiration (book) by Yuuki Kousaka, illustrated by Midori Shena, translated by Andria Cheng

Sweet Admiration is a yaoi novel, basically m/m contemporary romance. My records tell me I bought it brand new, and it looks like it can be purchased for a reasonable price.

This review includes major spoilers.

Review:

Katsuya and Kazuki befriended each other over the course of a summer when they were kids, and they kept in touch after Kazuki went back to the city. While Katsuya considers Kazuki a friend, the person he really can't forget is Shio, Kazuki's older brother. It's now 12 years later, and Katsuya has decided to take a risk and accept a job with a small company Shio helped found in the hope of seeing Shio again.

However, things don't go quite the way he planned. Shio doesn't actually spend much time at the company now, and the company housing Katsuya was promised may have been a lie. Katsuya resigns himself to not seeing Shio, but the question of his housing really needs to be settled, so he confronts the company president about it...and gets assigned to a "company dorm" that's actually Shio's condo. Katsuya isn't sure whether to be happy or horrified. On the one hand, he gets to spend time with his childhood crush. On the other hand, Shio has made it clear that he's only putting up with this arrangement because the company president asked him to.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

REVIEW: Beautiful People (manga anthology) by Mitsukazu Mihara, translated by Haruko Furukawa

Beautiful People is a manga anthology that ranges from fantasy to contemporary drama to apocalyptic fiction. It was originally published by Tokyopop and is now out of print. I bought my copy used.

Review:

Like many anthologies, this had a mixture of so-so, not so great, and good stories. Overall, I'd say the collection was so-so. "Blue Sky" was very good, "Princess White Snow" was decent but a bit off-putting, and "The Lady Stalker" was creepy. The rest of the stories weren't necessarily terrible but didn't really work for me.

Something about Mihara's artwork occasionally reminded me of Paradise Kiss - probably the elaborate clothes. I wasn't really a fan, but again, it wasn't necessarily terrible.

Like I do for most short anthologies, I'll go over the stories one by one.