Monday, August 20, 2018

REVIEW: Barely Lethal (live action movie)

Barely Lethal is a teen action comedy. I watched it on Netflix.


Young female orphans are secretly raised to be assassins at the Prescott Academy (later on viewers learn that there's a similar school for boys). They're not supposed to form any attachments, but for some reason Agent 83 can't seem to help longing for something different. She tries to cuddle the dolls she's supposed to stab and, when she hits her teen years, she finds ways to stealthily read teen magazines and watch teen movies from the '80s and '90s.

During an operation to capture a dangerous woman named Victoria Knox, 83 finds an opportunity to escape and have the kind of life she'd always dreamed of. She adopts the name Megan Walsh and signs up to live with a family in the US while claiming to be a foreign exchange student from Canada. Her "regular teen life" gets off to a rocky start due to all her intel coming from cliched teen romantic comedies, but just as she starts to feel like she's getting the hang of things and coming closer to achieving her own cliched teen romance, her Prescott rival, Agent 84, arrives and begins to ruin everything.

REVIEW: Detective Alice, Season 1 (live action TV series)

(I didn't take notes on name Romanizations while I was watching and ended up having to rely on other sources in order to write this post. Name spellings therefore don't necessarily match what was used in Netflix's subtitling.)

Detective Alice is a comedic Korean crime series. Each episode is approximately 15 minutes long.

Cheon Yeon Ju, a bubbly young woman who loves food, is partnered with Jung Re Oh (or Leo? I don't know if that was a nickname or an oddity of Netflix's subtitling), a serious and by-the-book guy, to investigate crimes for the Food and Drug Administration. Their investigations frequently result in them crossing paths with a criminal mastermind named Red Jung, who has connections to Re Oh's past.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

REVIEW: Crazy Rich Asians (live action movie)

Crazy Rich Asians is a romantic comedy-drama based on Kevin Kwan's novel of the same title. I haven't read the book yet, although it's on my TBR.

I didn't pay much attention to the book when it first came out because the cover made it look like women's fiction about rich people being bitchy to each other. Then the movie came out, and I kept seeing romance marketing, which made it look much more like my thing.

So, the story: Rachel Chu is an economics professor whose boyfriend, Nick Young, has asked her to come with him to Singapore to meet his family. Nick has to go back anyway because he's going to be the best man at his best friend's wedding, so this seems like a good time. Rachel agrees and rapidly discovers that she knows less about Nick's life than she thought. His family is old money, and many people in his life, including his beloved mother, instantly judge Rachel to be unworthy of him. Even if she manages to stand up to them, there's still the issue of the choices she and Nick would have to make in order for the two of them to remain together.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

REVIEW: To Terminator, With Love (e-novella) by Wes Kennedy

To Terminator, With Love is m/m sci-fi romance, although be warned that the sci-fi elements are pretty light. It's published by Less Than Three Press.


Dexter Wu isn't a terribly social guy. He's a grad student whose life currently revolves around his big project, a robot named HAL that's supposed to be able to read stories to children. He has one close friend, Sandhya, who's about to move back to India. He's trying not to let that fact utterly wreck him, but it's hard. He's tired, stressed out about finals and HAL, and...suddenly in a confusing and terrifying amount of danger.

According to a powerful device owned by a shadowy group known as the Agency, HAL is going to destroy the world. Dexter's work on it must be stopped at all costs. The Agency's people don't normally try to kill their targets, but for some reason protocol is being broken this time around, and Dexter's running for his life. Luckily he has one agent on his side, Andre Jackson.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

REVIEW: Read It and Weep (book) by Jenn McKinlay

Read It and Weep is the fourth installment in McKinlay's Library Lover's Mystery series. I borrowed my copy from a coworker.


In this entry in the series, Violet La Rue is holding auditions for A Midsummer Night's Dream. The entire town is excited, and not just because many of them want a chance to shine onstage. It turns out that the role of Puck is going to be played by a friend of Violet's, a charming famous actor named Robbie Vine.

Lindsey doesn't want a part in the play, but she does agree to help with costuming. Meanwhile, Sully's helping build the set, and their friends hope that the close proximity will lead to them getting back together. There's definitely still a spark between them, but things become complicated when Lindsey finds herself drawn to Robbie. Sure, his personal life is a mess, but at least he talks to her and tells her how he feels. Unfortunately, something sinister is going on. Someone seems to want Robbie, and possibly anyone close to him, dead.

REVIEW: The Perfect Insider: Complete Collection (anime TV series)

I'm going to start this with a content warning (which could be considered a spoiler, except it's revealed in the second or third episode, so maybe not): this series includes things that would be considered incest, statutory rape, and pedophilia in the US. I'm not 100% sure of the timeline, but the character was between 13 and 15 when the "relationship" started, and she was consistently portrayed as the seductress who started it all. Okay, now on to the review.

The Perfect Insider is an 11-episode mystery series. Specifically, it's based on a locked room mystery novel by Hiroshi Mori. From what I can tell, the novel hasn't been published in English.

I bought this completely on a whim. Right Stuf was having a really great sale, so I concentrated on the Sentai Filmworks stuff since their boxed sets are usually more expensive than I'd like. I ended up with several titles I might not have gotten under other circumstances, like this one.

The Perfect Insider stars Saikawa, a professor (of architecture, I think), and Nishinosono (who from here on out I'll call Moe, her given name, because I'm less likely to mistype it), one of his students. One of the reasons why I'm unsure of Saikawa's area of expertise is that he often had a tendency to come across as either a philosophy professor or possibly a computer science professor. I'd never have guessed his true area of study if he hadn't handed someone a business card.

At any rate, Moe has an enormous crush on Saikawa and uses his interest in the infamous Dr. Magata to entice him to a vacation on a secluded island (along with several of her fellow students and one other professor, although they're all relegated to the background for most of the series). Shiki Magata is a genius who killed her parents 15 years ago. She was declared "not guilty" by reason of insanity and has lived in seclusion ever since, continuing her research in a completely locked down apartment at the lab. Saikawa wants to meet her, even if only by video chat. However, when they arrive, he and Moe discover that Dr. Magata has been killed, her body dressed in a wedding dress and her arms and legs severed.

REVIEW: The Dispatcher (audiobook) by John Scalzi, narrated by Zachary Quinto

The Dispatcher is speculative fiction. I listened to it via Audible - I believe I added it to my library at some point when it was free.


In the world of this story, something happened 8+ years ago that changed how death works. When someone is killed (or murdered?) by another person, instead of staying dead they pop out of existence and reappear, naked and alive, in their own home, wherever in the world that happens to be. Well, most of the time. There's a one in a thousand chance that they'll stay dead.

No one knows how this change came to be, or why, but it has resulted in the creation of a new job, Dispatcher. Dispatchers are people trained and licensed to kill people who are about to die, so that they can come back to life. Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher substituting for another Dispatcher at a hospital. It seems like a normal enough assignment until he's roped into an investigation into the disappearance of the Dispatcher he was substituting for.

REVIEW: Last Minute Romance (live action TV series)

[This review includes a major spoiler, the answer to the question that I, and I imagine lots of other viewers, had: Does the series end with Baek Se experiencing a miraculous recovery from her cancer? There are aspects I can't write about without answering this question. If you'd like a spoiler-tagged version of this review, please see my cross-posting on LibraryThing.]

Last Minute Romance is a short South Korean drama, a little over two hours long. Dramafever posted it as two episodes, but I think it might have originally been a web series composed of several very short episodes. I'm guessing those short episodes were stitched together to create two hour-long episodes. It worked out, I guess, because I didn't really notice or suspect this until I started writing this review.

Now for the summary. Baek Se is a terminally ill suicide hotline operator. She's been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and has been given 3 months to live. There's really only one thing on her bucket list, but it's an impossible dream: she'd like to date her idol, a popular actor named Ji Seol Woo. Since she knows she's never going to be able to date him, she decides to try the next best thing, dating someone who looks like him. It takes quite a bit of searching, but she finally finds her fake dream guy in struggling actor Yoon Dong Joon.

Dong Joon hates the way people constantly see him as the fake Ji Seol Woo. He wants to get roles on his own merits, but the only way to do that would be to get plastic surgery. Unfortunately, that's going to cost him 30 million won (approximately $26,500, according to a quick online conversion). Luckily for him, a weirdo fangirl is offering exactly that amount to anyone willing to pretend to be her boyfriend as Ji Seol Woo.

Monday, August 6, 2018

REVIEW: Nimona (audiobook) by Noelle Stevenson, performed by a full cast

[This review includes slight spoilers.]

Nimona started off as a free fantasy webcomic and has since been published in graphic novel form (only the first three chapters of the webcomic are still available for free). I read it back when it was a webcomic and remembered enjoying it. I was excited when I heard about the audiobook, but also wary. I mean, it's a graphic novel. How do you turn a graphic novel into an even halfway decent audiobook?

In the case of Nimona, it was turned into something like a radio play, complete with sound effects, a full cast, and a narrator filling in whatever the sound effects and dialogue couldn't get across. For the most part, I thought it was reasonably successful, although I still missed the artwork.

Let me back up a bit. Nimona stars Lord Ballister Blackheart, a villain who wants to cause trouble for the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics but who doesn't actually want to hurt anyone, and Nimona, his new sidekick. Nimona is a shapeshifter who thinks being a villain sounds cool, and she's overenthusiastic about her new job. She has a tendency to kill people if Ballister doesn't watch her and rein her in. Ballister's nemesis is Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, the man who blew off his right arm.

When Ballister learns that the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics is involved in a project that may be poisoning the country's crops, he decides to intervene. The situation is complicated by Nimona's secrets and Ballister and Goldenloin's painful history (they used to be friends, and it's strongly hinted that they were once lovers).

REVIEW: Go For It, Nakamura! (manga) story and art by Syundei, translation by Amber Tamosaitis

[This review includes slight spoilers.]

Go For It, Nakamura! is comedy with gay high school romance elements. I want to emphasize, however, that it isn't a romance. If the series ever gets another volume (maybe it already has, just not in English?), I could see it becoming a romance, but this particular volume is not.

Nakamura is an awkward, introverted, and occasionally uncomfortably intense 16-year old. He adores his pet octopus, Icchan. He has no friends and practises conversations in his head all the time but has difficulty actually having them in real life. He also happens to be gay. He has an enormous crush on his popular and outgoing classmate, Hirose, and his goal is to 1) actually talk to him and 2) become friends with him.

I picked this up on a whim. Happily, this turned out to be a good decision. For the most part, I loved this volume.