Monday, July 30, 2018

REVIEW: Honey So Sweet (manga, vol. 1) story and art by Amu Meguro, translated by Katherine Schilling

Honey So Sweet is a high school romance series. I got this volume via interlibrary loan.


All Nao Kogure wants is to avoid attracting too much attention and to hopefully make a few friends. Unfortunately, for some reason Taiga Onise, the guy everyone in her class is afraid of and who punched some upperclassmen on his first day of high school, has taken an interest in her. When he asks her to be his girlfriend ("Would you please date me with marriage in mind?" - coming on a little strong), she's sure that what he really wants is for her to be his slave for the rest of high school. She worries that if she says no to him, he'll torment her or hurt her. Seeing no other solution, Nao says "yes" and prepares for the worst.

As it turns out, Onise's bad reputation is a misunderstanding and he's actually a pretty nice guy. The more Nao gets to know him, the more she likes him. Too bad she's in love with someone else: her uncle, Sou, who's been raising her since her parents died. In this volume, Nao and Onise also gradually become friends with Kayo Yashiro, a gorgeous but aloof girl, and Ayumu Misaki, a good-looking boy with a prickly personality.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

REVIEW: Stardew Valley Guidebook, 2nd Edition, Includes Multiplayer (book) by Kari Fry & ConcernedApe

Stardew Valley Guidebook is the official guidebook for Stardew Valley, a massively addictive game in which your player character quits their soul-sucking corporate job and moves to the rural cabin their grandfather left them.

There is no one right thing to do in Stardew Valley. At minimum, you need to keep track of your energy levels (and, in certain situations, your health points), but beyond that it's up to you. You can go fishing, get to know villagers, make friends or possibly find romance, grow crops, raise farm animals, or battle in the mines. The game started off as single player, but there's now an open beta for multiplayer, and a multiplayer update will be pushed out to everyone on August 1st. I haven't personally played multiplayer, and I don't know that this will change once the update is pushed out - the few posts I've read about it make it sound a bit stressful.

At the moment I have three farms in Stardew Valley: my first one, which is about 3 in-game years old, my second one, which is about 2 in-game years old, and my newest one, which I've had going for a couple in-game seasons. I started the newest one in honor of getting this book.

Prior to buying this, I relied a lot on the Stardew Valley Wiki. However, I found it annoying to jump in and out of the game to check things, or use my phone to search the wiki. Having a physical guidebook around seemed like a nice idea.

Monday, July 23, 2018

REVIEW: Kiss Him, Not Me! (anime TV series)

Kiss Him, Not Me! is a romantic comedy series, sort of. It's best to view it primarily as a comedy series, since the potential romance is never resolved, just used for laughs in the end.

The series stars Kae, an overweight high school girl who's a member of her school's history club and secretly a fujoshi (from my understanding, this refers to female fans of yaoi or BL manga and anime and generally has negative connotations). She has zero interest in ending up with someone. Instead, she prefers to wallow in her favorite ships (romantic pairings) and imagine hot guys, real or fictional, falling for each other.

After her favorite anime character dies, Kae becomes deeply depressed and hides in her room for a week, refusing to eat. When she finally emerges, she is magically thin and beautiful. As a result, four different hot guys at her school ask her out. Unable to choose between them and unwilling to tell them that she'd rather seem them paired off with each other, she agrees to go out with all of them at once. They find out about her secret fujoshi nature pretty quickly, but - surprise! - they still want to date her. Later on in the series, Kae's list of suitors expands to include a handsome and flirtatious girl.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Studio Ghibli Fest: surprise cancellation

I was originally planning on seeing every Studio Ghibli Fest film except Grave of the Fireflies, but for some reason my local movie theater decided to cancel all but the Wednesday evening dub showing of Princess Mononoke. They even cancelled the one weekday sub showing. The Wednesday showing happens to be the same day I'll be doing physical therapy, so I doubt I'll be up to seeing it. I'm feeling a bit bummed about it, since I'd been planning to see it for weeks. I'm also now wondering about the status of the rest of the movies in the lineup. Will they actually be shown, or could they be cancelled without warning too?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

REVIEW: To Siri With Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines (nonfiction book) by Judith Newman

To Siri With Love is a memoir. I got my copy via interlibrary loan.


Prior to moving to my current town, I was part of a really good sci-fi/fantasy book club. I recently decided that it would be nice to attend face-to-face book club meetings again, so I looked into my options. My local public library has a book club, and their next meeting is in late August. Unfortunately, they selected To Siri With Love for that meeting.

Ignore the book's title - this is primarily a mom's memoir of raising her autistic son, with occasional mentions of her husband and neurotypical son. Technology does come up, but not as much as the title implies it does.

I've had one other exposure to Judith Newman's writing that I know of, her New York Times article "To Siri, With Love." I liked it because 1) the parts about Siri interested me, 2) it made me recall my fascinating, enjoyable, and occasionally frustrating attempts at conversing with chatbots, and 3) it didn't automatically dismiss technology as bad and detrimental to social interaction.

I had heard of this book but decided not to read it after hearing about autistic adults' boycott of it and reading a few 1-star reviews that included quotes from the book. One bit that particularly repulsed me was the author's stated desire to forcibly sterilize her child when he turns 18 (more on this in a bit). I didn't want or need to read more than that. But then my idea about joining a book club happened.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

REVIEW: The Lives of Ants (nonfiction book) by Laurent Keller and Élisabeth Gordon, translated by James Grieve

The Lives of Ants is nonfiction.


I was cataloging a newer edition of a biology book and happened to come across this while I was hunting down the older edition for possible weeding. I don't read a lot of nonfiction - according to my records, I've only read or listened to approximately 13 nonfiction books in the past 10 years - but this looked reasonably interesting and social insects intrigue me.

My knowledge of ants is pretty limited. I've read a few popular science articles and I played SimAnt a lot when it came out (anybody else remember that game?). That isn't enough to judge whether the information in this book is any good.

That said, I found The Lives of Ants to be very readable, if not terribly well organized. The beginning of the book felt like the authors were throwing around information confetti. The bits and pieces of information were fun, but so brief and varied that it was clear the authors were only scratching the surface of an enormous topic. Also, I had trouble keeping track of which ant species were mentioned, and whether some of them had come up more than once. Species that were outside the norm in some way tended to get more attention. I suppose that's understandable since "weird" tends to make for more interesting examples, but it sometimes made it hard to get a good feel for just how far outside the norm they were.