Monday, October 29, 2018

REVIEW: Daughter of the Burning City (audiobook) by Amanda Foody, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller

Daughter of the Burning City is YA fantasy. I listened to it via one of the library Overdrive collections I have access to.

This review includes spoilers.


Sorina has spent most of her life working in the Gomorrah Festival, a city-sized traveling carnival, as the adopted daughter of the Festival's proprietor, Villiam. Although Sorina is the first known illusion-worker born in a hundred years and will eventually become the Festival's next proprietor, she doesn't feel particularly special. The blank areas of skin where her eyes should be mark her as a freak, even within Gomorrah. And although Villiam is kind and always finds time to talk to her, he doesn't seem to be putting serious effort into training her to be his successor. There is much Sorina still doesn't know about how Gomorrah works.

In addition to Villiam, her adopted father, and Kahina, Sorina's mother figure, Sorina has her other family members, her various illusions. Over the years, she has created several illusions so complex that they appear to almost be real people. Each of them was specifically designed to fulfill a role - Sorina's uncle, bossy older sister, annoying younger siblings, etc. - but each of them also acquired traits that Sorina didn't plan, special "freakish" abilities. They all add a bit of stability to Sorina's life, until one day she discovers something she hadn't thought possible: one of her illusions has been murdered.

Who would have killed an illusion? How did they manage it? Sorina doesn't know who to turn to. Should she trust Villiam, who believes that the killer is an outsider trying to harm him, the proprietor, through her? Or handsome Luca, who believes the killer is someone within the Gomorrah Festival?

Sunday, October 28, 2018

REVIEW: Spirited Away (anime movie)

Spirited Away is a fantasy movie. I saw it at my local movie theater as part of Studio Ghibli Fest 2018.

Chihiro is a 10-year-old girl who's unhappy about moving to a new home and going to a new school. When her dad takes what he thinks might be a shortcut to their new home and ends up coming across an abandoned theme park, all she wants to do is leave that creepy place. But since her parents don't seem inclined to listen, she follows them in.

Unfortunately, the "theme park" actually turns out to be connected to the world of the spirits. Chihiro tries to leave, only to discover that her parents have been turned into pigs due to having eaten food intended for spirits. With a little help from a mysterious boy named Haku, Chihiro gets a job at Yubaba's bathhouse in order to stay safe until she can figure out a way to save her parents and go back to her own world.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

REVIEW: The Garden Plot (audiobook) by Marty Wingate, narrated by Erin Bennett

The Garden Plot is a cozy mystery, the first in Wingate's Potting Shed Mysteries series. I checked it out via one of several library Overdrive collections I have access to.


Pru Parke used to dream about living in England. All her life, she'd avoided close ties with everyone but her parents, particularly her English mother. Texas never felt like home to her. So, several years after her mother's death, Pru decides to quit her job, move to London, and get a job as head gardener somewhere. She manages the first two things easily enough, but finding a head gardener position proves to be even more difficult than she expected. After nearly a year of one temporary gardening job after another, she has a mountain of rejection letters and will soon have to move out of the flat she's been renting.

Her latest temporary job has the potential, she thinks, to grow into something more permanent. Her employers, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, seem like kind and welcoming people, and Mrs. Wilson clearly misses her old home and garden. It's possible they might hire her to turn their mess of a backyard into a proper garden, if they like her work. Pru does as much as she can in the short time she's been given, and her efforts uncover part of a Roman mosaic...and also a body.

REVIEW: On Borrowed Time (book) by Jenn McKinlay

On Borrowed Time is the fifth book in McKinlay's Library Lover's Mysteries series. It's also the first book since the series added an aspect I didn't particularly want, a love triangle.


In this entry in the series, Lindsey is setting up for one of the Crafternoon meetings that these books always begin with, only to discover her brother, Jack, hiding in their meeting room. At Jack's request, she doesn't tell anyone about him, lets him stay in the room, and makes up an excuse to have the Crafternoon meeting somewhere else. She's both shocked and worried when she goes to check on Jack and discovers that 1) he's gone and 2) there is now a dead man in the meeting room.

Lindsey is sure Jack didn't kill the man but knows it looks bad, so she reports the body to the police but doesn't mention Jack. She soon learns that Jack is involved in something very dangerous. If she wants to rescue her brother, she has to somehow figure out what's going on and who she can trust.

REVIEW: Venom (live action movie)

Venom is yet another movie based on a comic book character.

Even I'm a bit tired of comic book adaptations by now, and the one trailer I remembered seeing of this movie didn't excite me. I've never read a Venom comic book and had no particular interest in or attachment to the character. I figured I'd skip this movie, but then I saw a few people on Twitter talking about how much they loved Eddie and Venom together. Once again, fan art managed to suck me in. And in this case, I'm glad about that. The movie turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable once Venom was finally introduced.

The basic story: Eddie Brock is an investigative reporter who's assigned to interview Carlton Drake, the movie's Elon Musk-like character. Although this is supposed to just be a puff piece, Eddie can't help but poke around a bit. He ends up getting himself fired, and his actions also lead to his fiancee dumping him. A few months later, however, one of Drake's employees comes to Eddie with information about Drake's secret and highly unethical project involving alien parasites. Bear with the first part of the movie, because this is where the fun begins.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Dramafever has shut down

I'd probably have found this out a lot sooner if I'd been paying better attention, since apparently the shutdown happened October 16th. I'd been meaning to look into why my next subscription renewal had been canceled but figured that it was due to someone finally noticing that I'd had the much cheaper Dramafever Birthday subscription price for the past several years. My year-long subscription had only just renewed in August, so I'm hoping I'm one of the folks they're planning on giving a refund to (their latest email states they'll be doing refunds shortly), but if I was supposed to do anything on my end it's probably too late. Well, if I missed out at least it wasn't too much money.

I never used my Dramafever membership as much as I should have, but it's still sad to see another streaming option go away, especially since it was one of the more stable niche streaming options I'd tried, with a pretty nice catalog of shows available. And ugh, I just realized that I was only one or two episodes away from finishing the live action version of The Perfect Insider. Looks like I'll be jumping over the Crunchyroll for a bit just to finish that one up.

Edit: Paypal notified me that I've received a refund, so at least there's that. At some point, I might look at what the current streaming options are beyond Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Crunchyroll (I will probably be annoyed with them forever, and there's the added issue, as far as I know, of them not having a Samsung app anymore). At the moment, between Netflix, Amazon Prime, and my massive backlog of unwatched DVDs, I have plenty of anime, K-dramas, and other things to watch.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Dub for Emma Season 1 fully funded, Season 2 almost there

It's down to the last 28 hours of Nozomi Entertainment's "Let's Dub All of Emma A Victorian Romance" Kickstarter. Season 1 has been fully funded for a while, and Season 2 has less than $10,000. I think it'll probably happen.

If you haven't noticed, I've created a list of things I'm looking forward to in 2019, and this is one of them. If Season 2 gets funded, then I'd also get to look forward to Hans dubbed in English.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

REVIEW: We Have Always Lived in the Castle (audiobook) by Shirley Jackson, narrated by Bernadette Dunne

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a mixture of mystery and horror. It was one of my library checkouts.


The Blackwood family used to be much bigger, but now there is only 18-year-old Mary Katherine (Merricat), her older sister Constance, their Uncle Julian, and Merricat's cat, Jonas. Merricat is the only Blackwood who ever leaves the house. She does all the grocery shopping and tries her best to act normal and unafraid, but inside she is a seething mass of rage and fear, quietly wishing all the townspeople dead as some of them taunt her. When she is not running errands, she spends all her time playing with Jonas and devising protections for her home that usually involve burying or hanging items around various places on Blackwood land. Meanwhile, Constance cheerfully and patiently cares for her and Uncle Julian, who is unable to walk and who spends his days writing about and obsessing over an event that occurred several years ago. The delicate balance of all their lives is disturbed by the arrival of Charles, Merricat and Constance's cousin and Julian's nephew.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

REVIEW: Blue Spring Ride: Complete Collection (anime TV series)

Blue Spring Ride is a high school drama/romance series. It's 12 episodes long. I haven't read the manga it's based on, but I suspect this is only an adaptation of a portion of the series.


When Futaba was in middle school, she was a shy and cutesy girl who had a crush on a boy named Tanaka (Kou). They were supposed to meet up for something like a date when he abruptly moved away. Futaba's middle school life deteriorated as the other girls became jealous of how much her cutesy behavior appealed to boys, and the end of her middle school life was miserable.

When Futaba entered high school, she decided things would be different. She became a loud slob, as far from her cutesy middle school self as she could manage, and did her best to be unappealing to boys. Her new personality gains her a couple friends, but cracks begin to appear in her facade when she runs into a guy at her school named Mabuchi who happens to look an awful lot like Tanaka. But is it really him? He's colder and more dismissive than Tanaka was. Although he does nothing but sneer at her, Futaba can't bring herself to leave him alone.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

REVIEW: La Mante (live action TV series)

La Mante is a short French thriller TV series, only 6 episodes long.

Yes, I know my tag for this post includes the initial article for the series even though I normally skip initial articles in my tags. 

Warning: my review will include major spoilers, but I'll save those for the very end and will make sure to note when I'm getting to the really spoilery part. If you're really worried about spoilers, this review will be cross-posted to LibraryThing, where I have the ability to use spoiler tags.


Content warnings for this series (not necessarily a complete list): torture, gruesome deaths and bodies, transphobia, references to rape, and references to child abuse and pedophilia.

Years ago (Wikipedia says 25), Jeanne Deber, La Mante (the Mantis), brutally tortured and killed several men who were, in one way or another, guilty of harming their families. She was eventually caught and imprisoned. In the present, a copycat killer is exactly copying Jeanne's murders. Jeanne says she might be able to help the police identify and capture the killer, but she will only speak to them via her son, Detective Damien Carrot.

Damien wants nothing to do with his mother, but he does want to stop the killer. He agrees to meet with Jeanne and be part of the team hunting the copycat killer, but he had a condition of his own: no one on his team (except the man who was originally responsible for capturing La Mante) is to be told that Jeanne is his mother and that he's meeting with her regularly to collection information.

Monday, October 1, 2018

REVIEW: The Pretender, The Complete First Season (live action TV series)

The Pretender is a drama/mystery series with what could be viewed as SFF elements, depending on your feelings about the main character's abilities. I own this on DVD.


Jarod is a Pretender, someone with the ability to become anyone he wishes to be. With a few days or weeks of preparation, he's able to become a surgeon, a cop, a pilot, and more. When Jarod was just a child, he was taken from his parents and kept at the Centre, where he was forced to do various simulations under the direction of Sydney, a psychiatrist. The Centre funds its activities by selling the results of its simulations to various governments and individuals.

At the start of this season, Jarod has long since escaped the Centre and is currently on the run, trying to find out as much as he can about his past and his parents, who, contrary to what he was always told, may still be alive. Because the Centre is Jarod's primary link to his past and because Sydney is something like a surrogate parent to him, Jarod keeps in touch, playing a game of cat and mouse with one of the Centre's operatives, Miss Parker, and her team.

A classic Pretender episode generally has Miss Parker and Sydney finding Jarod's previous location just a little too late and combing it for clues as to his current whereabouts. Meanwhile, Jarod is at some new location, pretending to be someone in a particular field (doctor, cop, lawyer, EMS driver, etc.) while investigating some sort of local injustice. He always escapes just before Miss Parker is able to find and apprehend him, and he generally leaves behind clues or a message for Miss Parker or Sydney, possibly involving whatever children's toy he played with in the episode (silly putty, barrel of monkeys, Rubik's cube, fake dog poop, etc.). In some episodes, aspects of this structure are either done away with or pushed into the background so that the overarching storyline of Jarod, Sydney, and/or Miss Parker's past can be given a bit of screentime.