Monday, January 28, 2019

REVIEW: Gakuen Prince (manga, vol. 3) by Jun Yuzuki, translated by Harumi Ueno

Gakuen Prince is probably a romantic comedy, but it gets really dark at times. Like at the end of this volume.

This review includes spoilers.


Things finally seem to be going better for Rise, now that she and Azusa have had their mock wedding and have been officially approved of and supported by Reiko Onitsuka, the student body president. However, it's clear that Akamaru still dislikes and distrusts Azusa. Nobunaga, a member of the student council, decides to use that fact to try to lure Akamaru to the dark side (i.e. the student council, which Akamaru has thus far resisted joining).

It all starts when Azusa comes down with a cold. Rise goes to his house and learns just how much he's been hiding from her and everyone else. His secrets soon land him in hot water at school, threaten to destroy his relationship with Rise, and add to Akamaru's list of reasons to want him gone.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

REVIEW: Gakuen Prince (manga, vol. 2) by Jun Yuzuki, translated by Harumi Ueno

Gakuen Prince is, I guess, a romantic comedy series. It was licensed by Del Rey.


Azusa and Rise learn that they're going to need to do a little more than just exchange neckties in order to be accepted as a real couple by the girls at their horrible school. They will also need to participate in a mock marriage, a ceremony known as the Fiançailles. Just ignore the fact that this was never mentioned in the first volume.

Rise wants nothing to do with the ceremony, especially since it will involve kissing Azusa in front of the whole school. Azusa, however, really wants the continued protection of a fake girlfriend, although he keeps telling himself that one of the main reasons he wants to participate in the Fiançailles is to finally end the other students' bullying of Rise.

Two other characters get involved: a girl named Noriko Fuwa and Akamaru, a popular but aloof guy from S-class. Noriko is determined to make Azusa her own. Akamaru, meanwhile, seems to want to protect Rise. He had previously warned her to keep her distance from Azusa, and now he goes after Azusa for continuously upsetting her, making her cry, and making her even more of a bullying target.

Monday, January 21, 2019

REVIEW: Sometimes I Lie (book) by Alice Feeney

Sometimes I Lie is a thriller. I got a copy via interlibrary loan.


Content warning: this book contains multiple instances of sexual assault, a couple of which are on-page.

This story is told in chapters set in three different time periods: Amber's present, Amber's recent past, and childhood diary entries. Amber wakes up on December 26th to discover that she is in a coma, unable to move or speak but occasionally able to hear what's going on around her. She has no memory of what happened but is convinced her husband had something to do with it. For whatever reason, he no longer loves her, although he seems to be doing a good job of pretending to be a devoted husband whenever he visits her at the hospital.

Just a few days prior, Amber was limping along in her job as an assistant at a radio show. She's been given an ultimatum: either figure out how to get the voice of the show, Madeline, to like her, or she'll no longer have a job come January 1st. Amber decides to take a different route. Through carefully planted social media posts, anonymous notes, and a few other efforts, she'll convince Madeline that she's about to be let go instead. While Amber is doing all of this, her personal life is in shambles. Her husband is behaving secretively and may be having an affair with Claire, her more beloved younger sister who lives right next door. This makes meeting up with Edward, an ex-boyfriend, more appealing than it maybe should be.

Meanwhile, diary entries written 25 years ago unravel the childhood secrets that continue to rule Amber's life.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

REVIEW: The Avengers and the Thunderbolts (book) by Pierce Askegren, illustrations by Mark Bagley & Jeff Albrecht

The Avengers and the Thunderbolts is a Marvel media tie-in novel. I think it's an original story and not a novelization of any of the comics, but I could be wrong about that.


Baron Wolfgang von Strucker and Baron Zemo forge a temporary alliance to...accomplish something. I didn't really follow along very well. Something about Hydra (Strucker's folks) gaining power and Zemo gaining access to research Strucker had acquired that's based on work originally carried out by Zemo's father.

The Avengers first become aware that something's up when the Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man's date is interrupted by an apparently indestructible Dreadnought. Wonder Man is kidnapped. At approximately the same time (I think), the Vault, which used to be a maximum security prison intended for supervillains and is now being modified to house broken/inactive supervillain technology instead, is broken into by Hydra. The Thunderbolts just happen to be in the area, for reasons I can't recall.

Strucker, Zemo, and Techno manage to produce a mindless and obedient super-powered army of creepy golden people. The Avengers and the Thunderbolts have to work together and somehow figure out how to defeat them and foil whatever it is they're planning.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

REVIEW: Gakuen Prince (manga, vol. 1) by Jun Yuzuki, translated by Harumi Ueno

Gakuen Prince is, I think, supposed to be a romantic comedy. Possibly a dark romantic comedy? It was licensed by Del Rey.

This review includes spoilers.


I bought this and the next two volumes while bargain bin shopping a while back. The cover made me think it might be some kind of "bad boy + nerdy wallflower" romance. It's not.

Jyoushioka High School used to be an all-girls' school until a few years ago. Although it's now co-ed, the school's girls still vastly outnumber the boys. All the boys are placed in S-class, which only the richest and brightest girls are assigned to.

Azusa Mizutani is the school's newest male transfer student. He has no idea how the school works, and he soon realizes that he'll have to learn fast. Since boys are few and far between, nearly all of the girls are sex crazed. S-class gets first dibs on raping the boys, after which they're fair game for anyone who can get at them. Munechika, the school's most powerful guy, has learned how to make the system work for him, and his advice to Azusa is simple: just accept it and don't get anyone pregnant.

Azusa doesn't have many options. He can take control and actively seduce girls the way Munechika does, keep running until he's finally cornered and raped, or find a girl who's willing to date him and thereby stake her claim on him. When he accidentally comes across Rise Okitsu, a girl who just wants to make it through high school without getting involved in any trouble, he decides to declare her his girlfriend.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

First thoughts: My Time at Portia (game)

I started My Time at Portia a bit too late to consider it for my "2018 Game Recommendations" post, but I somehow managed to rack up 15 hours of playtime in the past few days, so I figured I'd write up a quick post about it.

This is another one I bought in an effort to find something that hits the same spot for me as Stardew Valley, and I think it's come close (with a few caveats), closer even than Cattails. It's still an early access game, but from what I've seen, it's pretty stable and most of the content appears to be there. The voice acting is the only area where things are noticeably still missing - many characters are missing at least a few voiced lines, and some have no voiced lines, just subtitles. (Edit on 1/24/19 - This article may explain why, even after the game's official full release, it's still missing a lot of its voice acting. Oof. Here's hoping all the voice actors are paid what they're owed ASAP.)

Based on what I've played so far, you can do many of the same activities in My Time at Portia that you can do in Stardew Valley, and then some, although the balance of activities is very different. There are lots of villagers to befriend and potentially marry, and you can complete missions for fellow villagers in order to earn money and stronger relationships. You can grow crops (in tiny little planter boxes - this is not a farming game), build items, raise farm animals, go mining, go fishing, chop down trees, etc. There's world lore for you to gradually learn about - this is actually a post-apocalyptic world where technology almost led to the destruction of everything. Just as Stardew Valley asks you to choose between working towards rebuilding the community center or teaming up with Joja Mart, in My Time at Portia it seems you have a choice between turning some of your mining efforts over to the church or to the scientists at the Research Center (or maybe you can mix it up a bit - I honestly haven't tried that yet).

There are two glaring issues so far, and they're the main reason I'm not entirely sure whether I enjoy this game or not: the Assembly Station mechanics, and the fact that you can't progress without finding half a dozen things you need to track down, build, or do.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

For the first time, I still have vacation reading notes to write up at the start of the new year. I really need to get those done, or it'll interfere with my ability to pick up where I left off during my next vacation.

One of the things I realized at the tail end of 2018 is that it has become really hard for me to force myself to write reviews. I'm not sure what's up. I don't want to stop blogging/reviewing, but I think I need to figure out a different way of doing things. Maybe I need to change my reviewing style.

I also realized that I need to actively work at offloading (donating, recycling, or selling) more of my collection, more regularly. In the past couple years, I haven't offloaded more than 30 items a year, whereas I've definitely purchased more than that. I just bought a new bookcase that's taller than me, and that's certainly helped a lot, but I can't keep adding and upgrading bookcases. So, one of the things I'm trying in 2019 is sticker rewards, since Booklikes Bingo has taught me that I apparently have an inner small child that still loves stickers. I have a sheet of paper with a blank table with 56 spots on it. For every item I offload in some way, I get to put one sticker on the sheet. Ideally, I should have the whole sheet filled up in a year. It's not much, but it'd be an improvement over previous years, if it works.

Beyond that, I don't have a whole lot of reading/reviewing goals. As far as goals not related to books go, I'd like to continue to go to the gym regularly and get back to my pre-Hep C medication weight. I don't know if I've mentioned this, but in the past few months I was diagnosed with mild arthritis in my right hip. After being referred to multiple doctors, each of whom thought surgery might be a good idea, I was finally reluctantly given a prescription for physical therapy, which I'm very happy to report worked wonders. Since then, I've been going to the gym regularly and doing my physical therapy exercises and stretches semi-regularly (yeah, I need to work on that). I've also made it a quarter of the way to my weight goal. My hip's still occasionally a bit stiff, and flexibility is still an issue, but things are so much better. I'd like my progress to continue into 2019.