Monday, July 29, 2019

REVIEW: Mia and the Forbidden Medicine Report (book) by Fumi Yamamoto, illustrated by Nitaka, translated by Charis Messier

Mia and the Forbidden Medicine Report is a steampunkish fantasy mystery Japanese light novel. It's licensed by Cross Infinite World.


Mia is one of the newest Pharmacology students at Royal Academy, a school with four different areas of study: Law, Magic, Medicine, and Pharmacology. Law tends to attract the children of the nobility, Magic requires students to be born with magical abilities, Medicine is difficult to get into, and Pharmacology tends to be looked down upon because it's easier to get into than Medicine.

Mia has one goal: to find a cure for Demon Claw, the disease that resulted in her mother being quarantined when Mia was only six. Demon Claw is spread by touch, can be caught by anyone, and is highly contagious. It upsets Mia that, as far as she knows, hardly any attempts have been made to find a cure for it, while Angel Tears, a disease that appeared at about the same time and that affects only mages, gets all kinds of attention and funding. Angel Tears victims are treated with sympathy and understanding, while Demon Claw victims are shunned.

The best chance Mia can see for accomplishing her goal is the Grand Plan. Each student is required to submit a research proposal in their first year. If it's accepted, they can go forward with that research. If it isn't, they're assigned a research topic and that's that. The only thing students are ever assigned to research is Angel Tears, so Mia has extra incentive to come up with a good Grand Plan. Can she manage to find good teammates, come up with a topic her professor will accept, and somehow overcome the stigma that has prevented Demon Claw from being researched on even the most basic level?

Sunday, July 28, 2019

REVIEW: Secret of the Princess (manga) by Milk Morinaga, translated by Jennifer McKeon

Secret of the Princess is a one-shot yuri (f/f) manga licensed by Seven Seas. I got my copy from a used bookstore.

This review includes slight spoilers.


When she was a child, Miu's mother told her that she needed to be cute all the time, because she could meet her prince at any moment. Now that she's in high school, Miu understands that her mother's attitude is a bit old-fashioned, but that hasn't stopped her from taking her advice to heart. She really wants to meet her prince someday and get married.

However, she's currently attending an all-girls school, so it's unlikely she'll meet her prince anytime in the near future. The person she meets instead: Fujiwara, a popular member of the volleyball club. When Miu witnesses Fujiwara accidentally break the principal's expensive vase, Fujiwara begs her not to tell, saying she'll do anything Miu wants. Miu sees this as an opportunity. She asks Fujiwara to go out with her, explaining that it would be good practice for when she finally meets her prince - she'd already know how to be a great girlfriend. Fujiwara agrees because the activities Miu says they'd be doing - walking home together, eating lunch together, texting each other good night, etc. - sound like exactly the kind of friendship activities she has always felt she's been missing out on, due to the way all the other student put her on a pedestal. But what happens when their fake relationship starts to feel real?

REVIEW: Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (Dee Goong An): An Authentic Eighteenth-Century Detective Novel (book) translated by Robert van Gulik

Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (Dee Goong An) is an eighteenth-century Chinese detective novel written by an anonymous author.


In this book, Judge Dee handles three cases. In the first, two traveling silk merchants stay at a hostel and are later found murdered. The hostel owner is accused of robbing and killing them, although it's immediately clear to Judge Dee that there's more to the case than that. In the second, Judge Dee listens to an old woman's story about her son's death and her daughter-in-law's strange behavior in the period since then. He immediately suspects that the son was poisoned and that his wife had something to do with it. But can he get her to confess? The third case involves a beautiful young bride who may have been poisoned by a jealous scholar.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

REVIEW: Scavenger Hunt (book) by Christopher Pike

Scavenger Hunt is a weird blend of YA horror and SFF. It was originally published in 1989. I read it via interlibrary loan.

This review includes some spoilers.


This book begins with a cryptic scene of a young man running from something, possibly either a demon or a cult. He takes refuge in a church, where he tells the priest his story. Then the book switches over to Carl, a young man living in a nearly dead desert town. His best friend Joe was killed in a freak flood nearly a year ago, and he's basically just been existing since then. The only reason he's at all excited about the scavenger hunt that's about to begin is because Cessy, a sexy newcomer, has asked him to be on her team.

Tracie would have liked to have had Carl on her team, but unfortunately Cessy managed to ask him first. Tracie has had a crush on Carl for a while, but she's shy, and then Joe's death happened, and she and Carl just sort of drifted apart. The scavenger hunt at least gives them one last chance to interact before she leaves for college, although some of their team members make things awkward.

Carl's team consists of Cessy, her brother Davey, and Tom (Carl's brain-injured former football player friend). Tracie's team consists of Paula (Joe's girlfriend, who's been angry since his death), and Rick (Paula's genius younger brother, who's in a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy). Both teams get off to a strong start, but it isn't long before they become aware that there's something odd about this scavenger hunt.

REVIEW: Defeating the Demon Lord's a Cinch (If You've Got a Ringer), Vol. 1 (book) by Tsukikage, illustrated by bob, translated by Alex Kerwin

Defeating the Demon Lord's a Cinch (If You've Got a Ringer) is a fantasy Japanese light novel series. It's published by Yen On.


Note: Don't read the character data section at the end of the book until you've finished the novel. There are at least a couple major spoilers.

Naotsugu Toudou is a hero summoned from another world (more than likely ours) to defeat the Demon Lord Kranos. Only the hero has the necessary divine protection required to defeat the Demon Lord, but others may accompany and aid him. All heroes start off at the lowest level and have to work their way up from there. Theoretically, the hero's party members should all be high level, but this party is...different.

Limis Al Friedia is a Level 10 elemental mage who can only use fire magic, even though all elemental mages are supposed to be able to use two different elements. Aria Rizas is a Level 20 swordmaster who recently switched to a completely different school of swordsmanship. Also, even though higher level techniques require at least a little magic, Aria has absolutely no magical ability. (It isn't until nearly the end of the book that readers are finally told that the maximum level for humans is probably 100. I don't consider this to be a spoiler, so I'm mentioning it here for context.)

Ares Crown, the priest assigned to be the group's healer, is the only one with any battle experience. In fact, his level is so high that he worries the rest of the group might use him as a crutch, so he lies and says his level is only 3, the last digit of his true level. He somehow has to get everyone in the party leveled up as soon as possible and keep Nao alive long enough to defeat the Demon Lord, no easy task considering that Nao soon becomes convinced that Ares' assistance is unnecessary.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Games I've played in the past month (still A LOT)

I've still been doing way more computer game playing than review writing, although I may be in the process of inching my way out of my reviewing slump. We'll see.

FYI, Steam is in the last few hours of its Summer Sale - I recommend taking advantage of it if any of the games I mention below look good to you.

The games I'll be going over this time around (in alphabetical order):
  • Armello
  • Baba Is You
  • Blush Blush (yes, again) 
  • Cheeky Chooks
  • Chook & Sosig: Walk the Plank
  • Donut County 
  • Nekojishi
  • PickCrafter
  • The Room Three
  • Slime Rancher
  • Unheard