Sunday, April 28, 2019

REVIEW: Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People - and Break Free (nonfiction book) by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis

Gaslighting is a psychology/self-help book.


I read this hoping for some decent "dealing with gaslighters" tips. I requested it via interlibrary loan after one particular incident with my own personal gaslighter. I hadn't previously realized that the word "gaslighting" applied to that person's actions, but for some reason it suddenly clicked.

In her introduction, Sarkis asks that readers not succumb to the temptation to skip directly to whichever chapter seems most appropriate to their situation, and I'd have to agree. While Sarkis organizes the book into chapters that, for the most part, each deal with a particular situation (you're in an intimate relationship with the gaslighter, the gaslighter is in your workplace, the gaslighter is a politician, you're in a cult and being gaslit by everyone close to you, etc.), and those chapters often have advice that's only applicable in those situations, there are tidbits of advice throughout the entire book that could be more broadly useful.

REVIEW: Monster (book) by Christopher Pike

Monster is YA horror. I got my copy via interlibrary loan.


Angela is a relative newcomer to the small town of Point. She moved in with her grandfather after her parents went through an ugly divorce. She figures that Point will be quiet and peaceful, but she's wrong. Angela is at a party when Mary, her best friend, bursts in and starts shooting people with a shotgun. It's horrific, but Mary doesn't seem out of control - she seems to have some kind of goal. She tries to make Jim, her own boyfriend, her final victim, but Angela and a police officer manage to stop her.

After the shooting (which is pretty graphic - be aware of this if school shootings and similar situations are an issue for you), Angela tries to find out why Mary did it. All Mary will tell her is that the people she shot were monsters. She warns Angela to stay away from Jim, but Angela feels herself drawn to him. She has secretly been nursing a crush on him, holding back only because he was dating her best friend. But now that Mary is a killer, Jim is fair game, right? Except what if Mary is right? What if Jim really is a monster?

Thursday, April 25, 2019

REVIEW: The Viscount Who Loved Me (book) by Julia Quinn

The Viscount Who Loved Me is historical romance, the second book in Quinn's Bridgertons series. I got my copy from a used bookstore.


When Anthony Bridgerton's father was 38, he was stung by a bee and died. Anthony idolized his father, and his death affected him deeply. When Anthony decides, at age 29, that it's time for him to settle down and produce an heir, his father's fate is constantly on his mind. He is convinced he won't live to see 39, and so he's determined to marry someone he is unlikely to fall in love with.

Edwina Sheffield seems like the perfect candidate - stunningly beautiful and reasonably intelligent, but with nothing about her that affects Anthony on a deeper level. Unfortunately, Edwina has publicly stated that she won't marry anyone her older sister, Kate, doesn't approve of, and Kate loathes Anthony for his reputation as a rake. As they get to know each other, Kate realizes that Anthony is a better man than she first thought, and Anthony realizes that Kate is very much a woman he could fall in love with. But there's still the issue of Edwina, and Anthony's bone-deep belief that he will die young.

Monday, April 22, 2019

REVIEW: Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (live action movie)

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga is an Indian Hindi-language family drama/comedy with lesbian romantic elements. According to Wikipedia, it's the first Bollywood movie featuring a lesbian relationship. The movie itself treats the revelation that Sweety is a lesbian like a spoiler, since it isn't revealed until halfway through, which makes me wonder how it was marketed.

At any rate, the story: It begins at a wedding. Sweety is clearly uncomfortable as various people suggest that she should get married too. And hey, that guy over there would be a great candidate! He's going to London, and maybe she could go with him. Then the movie skips forward to the present. Sweety is running from someone and has briefly hidden inside a theater where a rehearsal is taking place. The play's writer, Sahil, helps her escape from a man who he later learns is her brother. From that point on, all Sahil can think about is seeing Sweety again.

The first half of the movie is a traditional "boy meets girl, complications ensue that prevent them from being together" story. Sweety's brother lies about what's really going on, leading his father to think that Sweety was trying to elope with a Muslim man, Sahil. Sahil thinks he and Sweety somehow fell in love during the few moments they spent together and hatches a plan to see her again. And poor Sweety is stuck in the middle of it all.

REVIEW: Slumber Party (book) by Christopher Pike

Slumber Party is YA horror, I guess. Or maybe it'd be considered a thriller. Not sure.


For the first time since their last fateful slumber party when they were all about 9 or 10 years old, Nell, Lara, Rachael, Dana, and Mindy are getting together again. The difference is that this time Nicole, Nell's little sister, won't be there. When everything went horribly wrong all those years ago, Nicole ended up dead and Nell was badly burned. Celeste, a quiet and shy new girl, is with them instead.

Lara is looking forward to skiing, maybe kissing a cute boy, and catching up with her old friend Nell. However, something has her on edge. How did that snowman in the shade manage to melt and refreeze? When one member of their group disappears, leaving behind a single ski and a patch of dirty ice, Lara starts to wonder if there's something supernatural at play.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

REVIEW: A Likely Story (book) by Jenn McKinlay

A Likely Story is the sixth book in McKinlay's A Library Lover's Mystery series. I borrowed it from a coworker (and just realized that I have yet to return it - I'll be doing that shortly).


I finished this about four months ago and just realized that I never wrote a review for it. Oops. All it took was starting a completely different cozy mystery series starring a librarian to remind me.

When Lindsey attempts to deliver books to a couple of her most reclusive library patrons, Stewart and Peter Rosen, she and Sully discover that Peter has been killed. Stewart is missing and seems to be the most likely suspect in Peter's murder. Lindsey can't imagine him having done it, however, and is concerned that Stewart is in danger. (And that is, unfortunately, about as much as I can remember of the book's overall plot. There was also a subplot involving Beth and a worryingly popular male children's librarian.)

REVIEW: Dramacon: Ultimate Edition (OEL manga omnibus, contains vols. 1-3) created by Svetlana Chmakova

Dramacon is a contemporary-set OEL romance manga with comedy and drama. I got it via interlibrary loan.


This omnibus contains the entire 3-volume series.

Christie is an amateur manga author with vague dreams of making it big one day. In the meantime, she just wants to have fun at Yatta Con, her first big manga/anime convention. Unfortunately, her boyfriend and artist (they're co-creating original English-language/OEL manga) is being a jerk, practically drooling over every pretty cosplayer who comes to their table. Matt, the good-looking cosplayer manning the table next to them, annoys her with his snarky comments, but she finds herself turning to him more and more as things deteriorate between her and her boyfriend. Matt's attitude may be a bit abrasive, but he and Christie just sort of click in a way that Christie and her boyfriend don't.

Each of the next two volumes take place a year apart, at the next Yatta Cons, following the ups and downs of Christie and Matt's relationship, Christie's con-going experience, and Christie and her friends' prospective manga careers.

REVIEW: Hanna: Season 1 (live action TV series)

Hanna is an action TV series based on a 2011 movie of the same title. I haven't seen the movie and didn't even know about it until I began writing this post.

This review includes slight spoilers.


The series begins 16 or so years in the past. A man we later learn is named Erik breaks into a high-security facility that for some reason has a lot of babies in it. He takes one of the babies and meets up with a woman who we later learn is named Johanna. Erik and Johanna refer to themselves as the baby's parents, although it's not initially clear whether they're actually her biological parents or consider themselves her adoptive parents. During their efforts to escape their pursuers, Johanna is killed. Erik takes the baby into the woods.

For the next 16 years, Erik trains his daughter, Hanna, in survival techniques, combat, and evasion. Hanna knows her mother was killed by enemies outside the forest, but she still can't help but yearn to see the outside world. She eventually ventures outside, and it isn't long before her and her father are forced to abandon their home and split up. In order to see her father again, Hanna must navigate a world she's only ever heard about before, with dangers she only partly understands.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

REVIEW: Aggretsuko: We Wish You a Metal Christmas (anime TV series episode)

Aggretsuko: We Wish You a Metal Christmas is not, as I initially assumed, a standalone movie, but rather a special Christmas-themed 22-minute episode that is a direct continuation of the first season of the series.

This post contains slight spoilers.


Retsuko gets addicted to Instagram and the quick bursts of joy that come from random people liking her carefully staged photos of food and supposedly perfect moments in her life. Instagram both feeds her need for positive feedback and sets her up to feel like a failure in comparison to everyone else. Christmas and its requirement of happiness and some kind of plans with other people (friends or family, but a date would be even better) just makes her feel worse. Meanwhile, Haida wants to ask Retsuko out to a party but worries she'll turn him down.

REVIEW: Quiz from God, Season 1 (live action TV series)

Quiz from God is a South Korean medical crime drama. This review is just for the first season, which is all I've seen so far. I watched it via Netflix


I forgot to write down characters' names and am therefore getting them from AsianWiki, so apologies if the name romanizations don't match the ones in Netflix.

This is a medical crime drama primarily focused on a genius young medical examiner who used to be a surgeon and who has just been assigned to a crime investigation team based in a university (I have no idea whether this setup would be considered believable to South Korean viewers, but it seemed odd to me). The team concentrates on murder cases that might in some way involve rare diseases or medical conditions, either on the part of the victim or the perpetrator - they perform second autopsies after initial investigations have failed. As the series progresses, it becomes apparent that the genius medical examiner, Han Jin-Woo, may have a rare medical condition of his own. He manages to successfully hide it from most of his colleagues, but a mysterious person who's secretly watching him and keeping tabs on him seems to know quite a bit about his illness and other aspects of his life and is willing to use that knowledge against him.

Until the last few episodes of the season, the series tends to focus on individual murder cases that are introduced and wrapped up in the space of a single episode.

Being an anxious introvert sucks

I've been training a new staff member at work, my first new staff member ever. I knew it would be challenging, but I didn't foresee how difficult it would be for my emotional/mental well-being. I tend to prefer written communication over verbal, and I find talking to people I don't know to be draining. This past week, I've spent huge chunks of time talking to someone I don't really know all that well (my new staff member), sometimes training her to do stuff that I'm not great at either since it isn't part of my regular duties, while doing my best to keep on top of my normal work duties as well as due dates for things my new staff member can't currently be expected to do on her own.

It's incredibly draining, to the point that I went to the gym one evening to try to do some exercises to loosen up my hip (I have a little bit of arthritis) and had to leave 15 minutes later because being around all those people, even though I didn't have to talk to any of them, was almost physically painful. Today I'm dealing with what seems to be some kind of delayed anxiety. There's absolutely nothing going on today for me to be anxious about, and yet I'm completely swamped with it.

My new staff member will eventually be fully trained, but in the meantime hopefully I can figure out a better way to deal with my own reaction to training her.

REVIEW: Love 020: The Movie (live action movie)

Love 020: The Movie is Chinese contemporary romance. According to Wikipedia, it was originally released just before the TV series began airing.


Bei Wei Wei is a Computer Science student who enjoys gaming in her free time. She's also considered to be the prettiest girl in the Computer Science Department, but she couldn't care less about dating. The one guy on campus who's caught her eye is Xiao Nai, but that's more for his genius programming skills than his looks (but his good looks certainly don't hurt). She's sure he has no idea she exists, however.

Wei Wei's gaming life becomes more complicated when her in-game spouse suddenly dumps her and remarries someone else. She doesn't really care about him - the two of them only married because there are quests that can only be done by married couples - but everyone in the game seems convinced that she harbors hard feelings against both her former in-game husband and his new spouse. Then one of the game's most famous, richest, and skilled players asks Wei Wei to be his in-game spouse, and both her gaming and real-life drama increases.

REVIEW: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (live action movie)

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a horror comedy (or black comedy? horror parody?). I watched it on Netflix.


Content warnings: lots of on-screen gore and deaths, a little bit of off-screen torture, a dog is threatened but neither hurt nor killed, and one character licks another character's face and kisses them without their consent (eww). None of the characters are raped, but one character has rape in their backstory.

Tucker and Dale are two hillbillies on their way to the vacation home Tucker just bought. It's a fixer upper, true, but it's still a dream come true for both of them, and they're looking forward to cleaning the place up and doing some fishing.

A group of college kids is heading out to the same area as Tucker's vacation home, intending to do some camping, tell some scary stories, and drink some beer. Unfortunately, they forgot their beer. While buying some, they spot Tucker and Dale and think the two guys look creepy. Dale, in a failed effort to get to know one of the girls better, ends up scaring the group even more. This escalates when one of the girls, Allison, accidentally slips and falls. Her friends think Tucker and Dale have hurt and kidnapped her with the intention of killing her and then them.