Sunday, October 27, 2019

REVIEW: Penny Dreadful is a Magnet for Disaster (book) by Joanna Nadin

Penny Dreadful is a Magnet for Disaster is a humorous children's book. I purchased my copy.


Penny Dreadful's actual name is Penelope Jones. It's the nickname her dad gave her because she is so often a magnet for disaster.

In the book's first story, Penny decides to become a hairstylist because she learns that hairstylists can charge $15 for a haircut. She would only need to do one and a half haircuts in order to pay her mom back for her last disaster and go to Monkey Madness safari park with her sister. (Penny's math was a little off since she needed almost $26, but whatever.) In the book's second story, Penny finds a dog, decides he's been abandoned, and tries to find a home for him after her mom refuses to let him stay with them. In the book's third story, a School Inspector is scheduled to visit Penny's school, and everyone is supposed to be on their best behavior.

REVIEW: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness (manga) by Nagata Kabi, translated by Jocelyne Allen

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness is an autobiographical manga licensed by Seven Seas. I got my copy via interlibrary loan.


Content warning for this manga: discussions of cutting, binging, and anorexia, and, if it wasn't obvious from the cover, there's on-page nudity and sex.

This volume begins with the author's first sexual experience, at age 28, in a love hotel with a woman from a lesbian escort agency. Only a few pages in, Nagata interrupts this scene to explain how she got to that point. After high school, nothing seemed to go the way she expected. She dropped out of university after six months, became depressed, developed an eating disorder, and couldn't seem to hold down a part-time job, much less the salaried position that her family expected her to have by that point. She gradually comes to the realization that a lot of her internal pain was the result of wanting love, comfort, and unconditional acceptance from parents (particularly her mother) who seemed unable to really understand her. And yes, the story does eventually get back to the scene in the love hotel, and it is awkward.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

REVIEW: Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert's Story (graphic novel) by Debbie Tung

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World is an autobiographical graphic novel. I got my copy via interlibrary loan.


Debbie Tung is an introvert, although she didn't always know that. At the beginning of this graphic novel, when she was still in grad school, she figured she was just weird. As she meets the person she'll eventually marry, finishes grad school, and deals with her first job and a work environment that seems to do nothing but drain her, she gradually figures herself out and becomes more comfortable with and less apologetic about her introversion.

This was a quick and largely relatable read. Her "what it's like to be an introvert" and "books make me happy" comics seemed really familiar, so I'm guessing I've probably seen Tung's comics shared on Booklikes and elsewhere.

Back to visual novels, nervously anticipating vacation time

I wish I could look forward to upcoming travel like a normal person. Instead, I'm worrying about stupid stuff (like how my apartment is horrible and will never be clean enough to leave) and all the possible things that could go wrong (setting up backup plans for backup plans, and worrying about the backup plans I haven't worked out yet). If I could just teleport to my location, everything would be fine. Or, if not fine, at least better.

Anyway, I'm still planning out what manga to read during my vacation. In the meantime, I made the mistake of getting hooked on a longish visual novel that I probably won't be able to finish before I leave and that I won't be able to continue reading at my destination. Ugh.

The visual novel in question is Hashihime of the Old Book Town, an absolutely gorgeous historical SFF time travel story with mystery, horror, and m/m romance elements. If you give it a shot, be warned, it takes several hours to really get going and contains explicit sex scenes (possibly only one per route? which is weird, because that's likely too little for those who like that sort of thing, but too much for those who enjoyed the previous 18 hours of story with zero sex in it). Also, pay attention to those content warnings at the beginning. If you're a gay or trans person who's depressed, experiencing suicidal ideation, etc., I'd recommend staying away from this visual novel. I've only played the first route so far, and it does manage to give the main character and one of his friends, Minakami, a happy ending, but the journey to that point grinds them to bits.

Judging by others' playing time, I have anywhere from 15 to 25 hours to go before I'm done with the whole visual novel. I'm not sure I'll manage it all before going on vacation, so here's hoping I at least figure out a good place to stop. I just started what I think is probably Kawase's route, so I'll see how long that takes.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

J-Novel Club update: membership cancelled (for now)

My J-Novel Club reading has slowed down. Also, I'm going to be on vacation during a good chunk of next month. It seemed like a good idea to buy a bunch of J-Novel Club titles and cancel my membership. I figure I'll restart it when I've finished all or most of my final purchases, assuming I've found some good titles I want to continue.

Canceling was really easy - I just clicked a link, and my membership page updated right away to say that it was canceled and would end on the last day of my current membership (tomorrow). I wasn't asked any questions about why I wanted to cancel, and no attempts were made to keep me from canceling. Assuming I don't get charged tomorrow, the whole process was really painless. The only thing I wonder about is whether there's a way to completely remove my current payment method, but I'll worry about that later.

My best finds during my two months as a J-Novel Club member:
  • The Ao Oni series: It's disgusting and gruesome, but also oddly fun and not too badly written/translated. I haven't played the games, and yet I've still liked the books. 
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! series: Okay, so these are not well written/translated at all, but they still managed to be fun.
  • Outbreak Company, Vol. 1: There was some "otaku who doesn't know how to behave around real girls" stuff that made me cringe, but this still showed signs of being the start of a decent series. I could see myself trying the next volume at some point.
 My final purchases:
  • The last (?) Ao Oni volume
  • Apparently It's My Fault That My Husband Has the Head of a Beast, Vol. 1: To be honest, this doesn't sound all that great, but I'm doing my best to read as many light novels with female protagonists as possible.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm, Part 1 Volume 1: A "reborn into a fantasy world" series, but starring a sickly girl who really loves books rather than the usual ordinary guy who all the girls inexplicably love. The premise intrigues me, but the execution doesn't seem great, which is why I only bought the first volume.
  • Campfire Cooking in Another World with My Absurd Skill, Vol. 1: For when I need a "transported to another world" fluff story with (I think?) no romance.
  • Demon King Daimaou, Vol. 1: It looks like it's written in third person POV. I've now read enough Japanese light novels for this, specifically, to be appealing. I hate how many of them are written in first person when they'd be so much better in third.
  • JK Haru is a Sex Worker in Another World: Will I be able to handle this? I guess I'll find out. I read some of the free excerpt, and it's very explicit in an emotionally distant and ugly sort of way.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, Vol. 3: I'd have picked up volume 4, too, but I'd like to know first how the author handles continuing the series past what could have been its natural stopping point. Especially considering the fact that the author doesn't seem to be a very skilled storyteller, at all. Still, I enjoyed the series and wanted to read a bit more.
  • Sexiled: My Sexist Party Leader Kicked Me Out, So I Teamed Up with a Mythical Sorceress!, Vol. 1: Reviews indicate that it's very heavy-handed with its messages, which some reviewers liked and some didn't. I guess I'll find out which side I'm on.
  • The Combat Baker and Automaton Waitress, Vol. 1: The excerpt seemed rough, but it has an AI as one of its main characters, so I really wanted to read it anyway.

Monday, October 7, 2019

REVIEW: The Wize Wize Beasts of the Wizarding Wizdoms (manga) story and art by Nagabe, translated by Adrienne Beck

The Wize Wize Beasts of the Wizarding Wizdoms is a one-shot (?) fantasy slice-of-life BL manga. It's licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment.


This is composed of eight short stories that take place in the same fantasy world. Main characters from some stories occasionally have cameo appearances in other stories. If I had to briefly describe this volume, I'd say it's slice-of-life m/m Hogwarts by way of Zootopia.

I really wanted to love this. Honestly, I expected to love this. It's by the creator of The Girl From the Other Side, a series I've enjoyed so far (I've read the first four volumes), the furries on the cover looked appealing, and I'd heard it was sweet.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

REVIEW: Olivia's Secret Scribbles: My New Best Friend (book) by Meredith Costain, illustrated by Danielle McDonald

Olivia's Secret Scribbles: My New Best Friend is realistic fiction with a hint of mystery. It's a chapter book intended for children ages 6 to 9.


Olivia has started a diary in honor of moving into her new bedroom, which is in the attic of her family's house. She's now in the perfect spot to keep an eye on her neighborhood's goings on, which is fun but also sad, because she can see the empty house where her best friend Lucy used to live.

But then Olivia notices that someone new has moved into Lucy's old house. There's also a new girl, Matilda, in her class. Is it possible that she and Matilda could become friends?