Sunday, November 24, 2019

REVIEW: Sorry for My Familiar (manga, vol. 1) by Tekka Yaguraba, translated by Andrew Cunningham

Sorry for My Familiar is fantasy comedy. It's licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment. I purchased my copy of volume 1.


Patty, a young devil girl, is too weak to summon a proper animal familiar, so she chooses a human named Norman instead. Norman is a daemon researcher who's absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to do field research in the devil world, so this arrangement works well for him. Unfortunately for Patty, Norman sometimes gets overexcited about all of these fascinating beings he encounters. He also has a somewhat creepy habit of wanting to intensely observe, sketch, and measure everything.

Patty's father is a deadbeat who recently left town in order to escape loan sharks. She's now on a quest to find him, which gives Norman lots of opportunities for research. In this volume, Norman enters a contest for familiars (lots of different familiars to observe, plus the possibility of winning free tickets for the devil world cross-continental railroad), and Norman and Patty attempt to cross the devil world desert.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

REVIEW: Runed (book) by Kendall Grey

Runed is Norse mythology-inspired urban fantasy with comedic elements.


When Loki wakes up naked and encased in ice, the last thing he remembers is Ragnarok. Much has happened since then, because his body is now that of a mortal human woman, he no longer has any of the runes that gave him his powers, and Huginn, one of Odin's ravens, is a ragged chicken. (I will be using male pronouns throughout this review because Loki indicates multiple times throughout the book that he still thinks of himself as a man, right down to his choice of which public bathroom to enter. Speaking of which, content warning: there's some brief transphobia in that scene.)

The person who finds him and takes care of him is Gunnar Magnusson, an archeology grad student who's due to fly back to the US soon. Gunnar doesn't believe that Loki is really a god and is concerned about leaving this obviously confused person behind, but Loki turns out to be pretty resourceful. The end result is a road trip with Loki, Gunnar, Gunnar's rich stoner friend, and Huginn the chicken.

Back from vacation!

I actually got back about a week ago. This was my annual "visit family, binge read manga, and maybe eat out occasionally" vacation. Last year, my dad wasn't able to make it in time to see me, so I was thrilled that, this year, I got to see my entire immediate family. This, combined with some major anxiety related to the friend who was going to help me out by driving me to the airport cancelling on me less than a day before my flight, plus the cold I caught about halfway through my vacation, resulted in me reading way less than I normally do. But I did get through some stuff.

  • Black Butler Vol. 27
  • Blue Exorcist Vols. 1-2
  • Haikyu!! Vols. 1-2
  • Maid-sama! Vols. 1-18 (the entire series)
  • Skip Beat! Vols. 41-42 
  • How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals by Sy Montgomery
I also watched a lot of TV, some of it at the airport and on the plane, and some of it while my dad was home:
  • Aggretsuko (anime TV series) - I saw Season 1 and the Christmas special a while back. I watched episodes 1-4 of Season 2 on the plane and enjoyed it.
  • The King's Avatar (live action TV series) - Netflix finally fixed the English subtitles! They now make sense, for the most part. My dad and I made it almost halfway through the series together, and I watched a little more after he left. There's a revelation in episode 18 or 19 that I was not fond of, but I still plan on finishing the series.
  • Violet Evergarden (anime TV series) - I originally intended to watch this at the airport and am glad I opted to watch it during my vacation instead. I don't like crying in public, and this series would have done it. I'd love to have this in my DVD/Blu-Ray collection, but it doesn't look like it's available. I'm hoping it doesn't become an Aniplex of America release, because, as much as I enjoyed it, I don't want to pay $140+ to own a 13-episode series.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

REVIEW: Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice from My Bipolar Life (nonfiction graphic novel) by Ellen Forney

Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice from My Bipolar Life is a mental health self-help graphic novel. I got my copy via interlibrary loan.


Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1998. It took her years to get stable, but she managed it. After she published Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me (which I haven't read), comments from readers inspired her to write this book.

I requested this in order to read up on mental health-related graphic novels for work. This was much more text-heavy than I expected - not so much fun to read cover-to-cover, which I needed to do fairly quickly in order to finish it in time to write up some impressions for coworkers. But I'll admit that I got through it more quickly and easily than I probably would have if it had been a more traditional self-help book. The large comic-style text and illustrations were appealing and usually easy to follow.

Forney covered lots of topics: different therapy options, coping tools, dealing with insomnia (or the opposite, hypersomnia), dealing with meds (tips for remembering to take them, traveling with meds, side effects), identifying your warning signs, and the importance of setting up a support system and ways to do it. Although her advice was geared towards folks with bipolar disorder, those with other mood disorders or anxiety could probably also find useful information. As someone who, only this afternoon, had to deal with an anxiety-induced panic attack, I can confidently say that Forney's "put your face in a tub of ice water" trick actually does help.

REVIEW: The Collector (book) by K.R. Alexander

The Collector is Middle Grade horror. I got my copy via interlibrary loan.


Although Josie loves her grandmother, she isn't thrilled about moving in with her. She misses Chicago and, since her grandmother doesn't have internet, she can't contact her old friends. However, Josie's mom recently lost her job, and Josie's grandmother has been displaying worrying signs of Alzheimer's, so Josie's mom decides that this move is for the best.

Josie's grandmother has several odd rules. First, Josie and her sister Anna are not allowed to leave any windows open after dark. Second, no dolls are allowed in the house. And third, Josie and Anna are not allowed to enter the woods behind Josie's grandmother's house. Josie's grandmother also keeps talking about someone named Beryl - Beryl is hungry, and wants to take Josie and her sister away. Part of Josie wants to dismiss this as signs of her grandmother's Alzheimer's, but part of her worries that there might be some truth to it, especially after she and Anna have nightmares about a doll and a creepy house in the woods.

But then Josie makes her first friend at school, a girl named Vanessa. Vanessa is kind, cool, and a vegetarian just like Josie. She lives alone with her aunt. Who collects porcelain dolls. And whose house just happens to be located in the woods, and look just like the one in Josie and Anna's nightmares. But surely it's just a coincidence.

REVIEW: The Haunting of Tram Car 015 (novella) by P. Djèlí Clark

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is steampunk. I got my copy via interlibrary loan.


This novella takes place in Cairo in 1912. Agent Hamed Nasr and his new partner, Agent Onsi Youssef, work for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities. Their newest case appears, initially, to involve a haunted tram car. However, they soon realize that there's something else going on. Unfortunately, knowing what they're dealing with isn't the same as actually solving the problem, considering the shoestring budget the Ministry has given them. The agents find themselves having to get a bit creative, with the assistance of some local women.

This was decent, and featured a few aspects that made me want to read more by this author. It's steampunk that, for once, isn't set in London. In fact, London didn't even come across as being particularly important - magic first entered this world via the work of a Sudanese man, who used a combination of alchemy and machinery to open a doorway to the world of the djinn. And although the book starred two male agents, women's suffrage was constantly in the background, and women played an important part in dealing with the being in the tram car. The few appearances of "boilerplate eunuchs" (robots) also fascinated me - some appeared to possess this world's version of artificial intelligence.

I'd happily read more stories starring Hamed, the experienced and somewhat grumpy agent, and Onsi, his shinier and more cheerful new partner, although I'd really love to read a full novel set in this world. From what I can tell, there's currently just one other story, "A Dead Djinn in Cairo," which stars Fatma el'Sha'arawi, the one female agent in the Ministry.

REVIEW: If It's for My Daughter, I'd Even Defeat a Demon Lord, Vol. 1 (book) by Chirolu, illustrated by Truffle, translated by Matthew Warner

If It's for My Daughter, I'd Even Defeat a Demon Lord is a slice-of-life fantasy Japanese light novel series (at least in this first volume - not sure about the rest). It's licensed by J-Novel Club. I purchased my copy.

This review includes spoilers for later books in the series. I haven't experienced those spoilers myself, but they were an important part of my decision whether or not to continue on with the series.


Dale is a skilled 18-year-old adventurer who's been traveling and defeating monsters since he was 15. One day he comes across a little devil child who's had one of her horns broken off, something that would usually be considered a sign that she was a criminal and had been banished from her people. She's so young that Dale can't think of anything she could possibly have done. The devil who was apparently her father or guardian died not far from where Dale found the girl, so Dale, not knowing what else to do and unwilling to kill or abandon her, takes her with him.

He can communicate with her a little, and she's a fast learner. He soon learns that her name is Latina. She doesn't seem to want to talk about her past much, but she takes well to Dale, as well as to Rita and Keith, the couple who run the inn where Dale had been staying up to that point. Dale also takes instantly to Latina, and it isn't long before he decides to become her adoptive father. Meanwhile, Latina learns to help out around the inn, improves her language skills, makes a few friends, and encounters anti-devil prejudice.