Tuesday, December 28, 2021

REVIEW: Finna (audio novella) by Nino Cipri, read by Amanda Dolan

Finna is an LGBT science fiction novella. I checked it out via one of my OverDrive accounts.


Ava and Jules recently had a painful breakup, which is made worse by the fact that they both work at the same LitenVärld, an IKEA knockoff store. When a coworker calls in sick, Ava reluctantly agrees to come in only to discover that Jules is also working that day. Then a customer's grandmother goes missing, and Ava and Jules are suddenly forced to work together to find the woman, a task that will involve traveling through multiple wormholes to multiple LitenVärld variations. 

REVIEW: Wonder Woman: Warbringer (book) by Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman: Warbringer is a YA Wonder Woman tie-in novel. According to my records, I bought it brand new, but I can't actually remember buying it.


Princess Diana is keenly aware that, unlike the other Amazons on the island of Themyscira, she was born an Amazon and has never really had to prove herself. She's so desperate to show that she's worthy that she joins a race even her own mother doesn't think she can win. But she has trained in secret and knows she'll manage it...until she spots a shipwreck and sees a human girl drowning. Although it'll cost her the race and there are strict rules against bringing mortals to Themyscira, Diana can't bring herself to just let the girl die.

Unfortunately, the girl, Alia Keralis, turns out to be a Warbringer, a descendant of Helen of Troy. She's unknowingly a catalyst for conflict, and her power has only gotten stronger as she's gotten older. Unless she's killed, she's doomed to plunge the world into war by her very existence. However, there's another solution: the Warbringer can be purified and her curse kept from being passed on if she makes it to a spring at Therapne before the sun sets on the first day of Hekatombaion, which is happening in about a week.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

REVIEW: I'm the Villainess So I'm Taming the Final Boss, Vol. 1 (book) by Sarasa Nagase, illustrated by Mai Murasaki, translated by Taylor Engel

I'm the Villainess So I'm Taming the Final Boss is yet another "reborn as the villainess in an otome game" fantasy romance light novel series. It's published by Yen On. I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes mild spoilers.


At the worst possible moment, when Aileen's fiance, Prince Cedric, is publicly ending their betrothal so he can be with Lilia Reinoise, Aileen remembers her past life as a sickly Japanese girl who loved otome games. Specifically, the otome game that she now realizes she's in. Unfortunately, Aileen is the villainess, doomed to die as Claude, the demon prince and the game's final boss, transforms into a dragon and awakens into his true demonic powers.

Aileen decides that the best way to deal with this situation is to find Claude and make him her husband before his and Lilia's storyline even starts. Her memories of the game are a little fuzzy, so she doesn't immediately remember all of her possible death flags, but she figures that as long as she concentrates on Claude, she can deal with the rest as needed.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

REVIEW: Accomplishments of the Duke's Daughter, Vol. 2 (book) by Reia, illustrated by Haduki Futaba, translated by Andria Cheng

Accomplishments of the Duke's Daughter is a fantasy "reborn as the villainess in an otome game" series. It's published under Seven Seas' Airship imprint. I bought my copy brand new.


I made the mistake of not reviewing this right after I finished it, so my memories are fuzzy. I figured it was best to finally write something up before starting the third book and further muddying my memories.

A couple years have passed since the beginning of the first book, and Iris is doing well. Her company is thriving, and she's doing a brilliant job governing Armelia. She's gone back to the palace for the first time since her fiance dumped her, to attend the Foundation Day celebration, and even that's gone relatively smoothly.

However, there's political unrest brewing, and Iris has shadowy opponents in high places who are setting her up to fail. Luckily for her, she still has quite a few friends and supporters, but will it be enough?

REVIEW: One of Us Is Lying (e-book) by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying is a YA mystery/thriller. I checked it out via one of my library OverDrive accounts.


It all starts with detention. Five students at Bayview High whose social circles don't usually all overlap find themselves cooped up together. Soon, one of them ends up dead, killed by a peanut allergy after drinking water from a peanut oil-tainted paper cup. One of them is almost certainly the killer, but which one is it?

The story is told from alternating POVs. There's Bronwyn, a perfect student who's destined to get into an Ivy League school. There's Addy, the pretty girlfriend of Jake, the captain of the football team. There's Cooper, a rising star baseball player. And there's Nate, a detention regular who's already on probation for dealing. Simon, the victim, ran a gossip blog and knew secrets about each of them that he'd been preparing to expose to the world. Could someone have killed him in order to protect themselves?

Friday, December 17, 2021

REVIEW: Ice Planet Barbarians (book) by Ruby Dixon

Ice Planet Barbarians is sci-fi romance (erotic romance?). I bought it brand new. From what I can tell, it was previously self-published.

This review includes slight spoilers.


Georgie is an ordinary 22-year old woman who works at a bank drive-thru teller window. She wakes up from a weird dream to discover that she's been abducted by aliens, along with several other 22-year old women. One of the women, Kira, was implanted with a translation device, so she's able to tell them all what's going on. They've been abducted to be sex slaves, and anyone who screams or puts up a fight gets raped. Even so, Georgie doesn't want to give up, and she is saved from horrific failure by a conveniently timed crash landing.

Unfortunately, now the surviving women are stuck on a icy planet with only a small amount of food, no heat, and a high likelihood that the aliens that kidnapped them will be retrieving them in the near future. As the group's unofficial leader, Georgie heads off to look for food, help, or anything else useful and soon finds herself under the care of Vektal, a big blue alien with a tail, horns, and a love of cunnilingus. Georgie is somehow not horrified, and Vektal doesn't seem to be interested in hurting her. Has she found someone who can help her and the other women?

Hades (the game), an update

I recently went on a trip for a week, and before my flight, I was determined to beat the final boss in Hades. I succeeded, at which time I discovered what people meant when they said that the game really begins after that point. More story, more gameplay options, etc.

I really am terrible at this game, but not quite 100% terrible. God Mode is still on, but it only (lol, only) took until about 72% invulnerability for me to beat all the bosses. The lasers were my biggest hurdle, and now that I know their secret, that part of the final battle is practically restful.

I've made it through maybe four times now, and due to the way info is doled out, I suspect it'll take at least another six times to finish the main story and who knows how many additional times to fill up my relationship meters with everybody. I'm looking forward to it, even if the game is hard on my hands (compression gloves are my savior).

REVIEW: The Perks of Loving a Wallflower (book) by Erica Ridley

The Perks of Loving a Wallflower is the second book in Ridley's The Wild Wynchesters historical romance series. I bought it brand new.

This review includes major spoilers, which I warn about just before discussing. If you'd like to read this review with spoilers hidden, I recommend my cross-posting on Goodreads or LibraryThing.


In the previous book in this series, which I haven't read, Miss Philippa York was betrothed to a duke who fell in love with that book's heroine instead, and married her. Thankfully, Philippa wasn't in love with him and doesn't mind, and she and Chloe, the woman the duke married, are friends. However, Philippa understands that she does still need to marry someone. Because of an inheritance, she doesn't need money, but it would help her father's political ambitions a great deal if she married someone with a title. The problem is that Philippa is a bluestocking who'd much rather host her reading circle than moon over some duke, and she's well aware that marriage could spell the end of all the activities she enjoys.

Thomasina Wynchester is a master of disguise who regularly assists with the cases her family takes on. Although she previously never had trouble charming ladies into her bed, now there's only one woman who interests her: Philippa. Unfortunately, she can't even bring herself to have a normal conversation with her. The best she's managed is to attend Philippa's reading circle disguised as Chloe's slightly senile "great-aunt." With some encouragement from her family, however, she does finally manage to talk to and flirt with Philippa...disguised as Baron Vanderbean.

As the Wynchesters help Philippa with a case involving an old manuscript and a man taking credit for the work done by one of Philippa's reading circle friends, Tommy wonders if she can somehow win Philippa's heart as herself and what will happen to the two of them if she succeeds.

Monday, November 29, 2021

REVIEW: A Case of Need (book) by Michael Crichton writing as Jeffery Hudson

A Case of Need is a medical thriller originally published in 1968. I checked my copy out from the library.


Dr. John Berry, a pathologist, is interrupted at work by a call from his wife: Dr. Arthur Lee, an obstetrician friend of theirs, is in jail. John goes to see him and finds out what happened. Karen Randall, the daughter of a wealthy family, was brought into a hospital by her mother after an illegal abortion, bleeding profusely. She died, and Karen's mother claimed that Dr. Lee had done the abortion. Although he tells John that he did indeed speak to Karen, he hadn't performed the abortion - in fact, he'd turned her away, telling her that, at four months, she was too far along and he couldn't do it. She'd seemed to accept this and left, but clearly she'd gone to someone else instead.

Unfortunately, Dr. Lee makes a good scapegoat. He's half Chinese, so racism is a factor, and it won't take much work to uncover that he does, in fact, perform abortions (and people like John and other doctors helped him hide it). It won't matter to anyone but John and Dr. Lee's wife that he didn't perform this particular abortion. John figures that if he doesn't try to find out the truth, no one will.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Hades (the game), revisted

I've been playing Hades a lot this past week, but on my Switch rather than on my computer. I can't decide which option is better or worse for my hands, but I've learned to put on compression gloves before even starting to play on the Switch. I seem to tense up more the deeper into the game I get.

On my PC, I was determined to avoid turning on God Mode until I'd at least managed to beat Meg. On my Switch, I turned on God Mode early, and I can't say I regret that decision. God Mode starts you off at 20% invulnerability to damage and adds 2% each time you die. From what I've read, it's capped at 80%. I am now at...70%. If I remember right, it took about 34% to beat Meg, 40% to get out of Asphodel, and at least 60% to make it out of Elysium. I have not yet beat the final boss, although I've come painfully close.

The things I'm enjoying the most: The characters and voice acting. Finding out a little more about everyone (whether you know Greek mythology or don't, there are some fun moments). Unlocking new stuff. Petting the big dog (I pet Cerberus every time the game gives me the opportunity, even though the Switch version doesn't have an achievement for that). Discovering Boons I really like.

If I could skip one realm in each run-through, it would probably be Asphodel. Although I generally prefer the enemies there to the ones in Elysium , I'm not fond of the whole "lava can hurt you" aspect.

Crossing my fingers that I'm at least decent enough to beat the final boss before I hit the God Mode cap. My goal is to make it out of the underworld sometime in the next week.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

REVIEW: Loki: The God Who Fell to Earth (graphic novel) written by Daniel Kibblesmith, art by Oscar Bazaldua, Andy MacDonald, and others

Loki: The God Who Fell to Earth includes issues 1-5 of Loki (2019) and issue 1 of War of the Realms: Omega (2019). I checked this volume out from the library.


At some point prior to the start of this volume, Loki was eaten by his father, King Laufey, and helped save Midgard by bursting from his father's stomach and becoming the new king of the Frost Giants.

There are lots of things going on in this short volume. The responsibilities of a king don't rest well on Loki's shoulders, so he avoids the job as much as possible. Still, someone's got to do it, and that someone is Frösti the snowman. Meanwhile, some being that I think might be called Nightmare is on the loose, Loki's trying to convince Tony Stark to let him be an Avenger, and Loki makes a deal that messes with his perception of time.

REVIEW: The King of the Dead at the Dark Palace, Vol. 1 (book) by Tsukikage, illustrations by Merontomari, translated by Andrew Prowse

The King of the Dead at the Dark Palace is a dark fantasy Japanese light novel. It's published by Yen Press's Yen On imprint. I bought my copy brand new.


When this book's main character wakes up, he discovers that he's now what's known as a flesh-man, a low-level undead being. Horos Kamen, the necromancer who brought him back to life, names him "End" and appears to have complete control over him. End's only consolation is he's able to do whatever he pleases as long as it doesn't contradict the necromancer's orders. He's also incredibly lucky that Horos doesn't seem to realize that he's self-aware.

When he was alive, End's existence was agony. He'd had an incurable illness that sapped his strength and left him in constant pain. If it weren't for his lack of freedom, he'd consider being a flesh-man to be a blessing. He feels no pain, never gets tired, and is much stronger than he ever was in life. Now that he has a better existence to look forward to, he'll do whatever it takes to gain his freedom. He'll have to kill Horos. But is it even possible to kill someone whose every order you must obey? Then there are the additional complications presented by Horos' human slave, Lou, End's lack of knowledge about the undead and their limitations, and the Ender knights, sworn enemies of necromancers and the undead.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

REVIEW: Classroom of the Elite: Complete Series (anime TV series)

Classroom of the Elite is an adaptation of a light novel series. Wikipedia tells me it's considered to be a psychological thriller, but that's debatable.


Kiyotaka Ayanokoji is an unmotivated and unsociable student who has just started attending the Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing High School, which is designed to support the country's future leaders. Students can't leave the school grounds, but the place functions like a self-contained city and provides students with a high degree of freedom. Everyone is given points that they can spend as they please, and more than a few students quickly spend everything they have, assuming that they'll regularly be given more points. 

However, the system turns out to be a little more complicated than that. Everyone is separated into different classes based on their academic achievement, and Class D, Kiyotaka's class, is at the very bottom. The odds are stacked against them, and no one expects them to rise any higher in the school's hierarchy. Suzune Horikita, a Class D student, is determined to make it to Class A no matter what it takes. Whether she can manage it depends upon the rest of her class...and whatever secrets Kiyotaka is hiding.

REVIEW: Giant Spider and Me: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale (manga, vol. 2) by Kikori Morino, translated by Adrienne Beck

Giant Spider and Me is is a post-apocalyptic foodie/slice-of-life series. It's licensed by Seven Seas but may be out of print now - Right Stuf doesn't have volume 2 at all and volumes 1 and 3 are listed as out of stock.


Volume 1 ended with Nagi, Asa, and a traveling peddler (does he have a name yet?) facing off against an armed stranger. In volume 2, the armed "stranger" turns out to be the peddler's daughter, Belle. Once Belle calms down, Nagi goes looking for a carpenter to fix her roof and finds herself up against the townspeople's perceptions of Asa. Somehow, Nagi has to convince everyone that Asa isn't a dangerous monster. And as usual, good meals play an important part in the story.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

REVIEW: Accomplishments of the Duke's Daughter, Vol. 1 (book) by Reia, illustrated by Haduki Futaba, translated by Alexander Keller-Nelson

Accomplishments of the Duke's Daughter is a fantasy Japanese light novel series, although it's a fantasy world with no magic. It's published by Seven Seas Entertainment's Airship imprint. I bought my copy brand new.


Iris remembers her past life as a Japanese office lady at the worst possible moment, when it's too late to change anything. She knows that she has somehow been reborn as the villainess of the game You Are My Princess, and she's currently experiencing the climax of the route in which the heroine, Yuri, ends up with Prince Edward, Iris's former fiance. If things proceed as they do in the game, she'll be banished to a nunnery.

To her shock, however, that's not what happens. Instead, her father makes her the governor of Armelia, the family's domain, a task that would normally be given to the family's eldest son. Iris isn't sure why the story has changed, but she's more than willing to accept this fresh start being offered to her. And so begins Iris's efforts to improve Armelia's government and economy and make it a better place to live.

REVIEW: The Handmaid's Tale (book) by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale is dystopian speculative fiction. I bought my copy used.


Content warnings for rape, homophobia, the killing of a pet cat (off-page), victim blaming, and probably other things I'm forgetting.

The protagonist of this story is referred to as "Offred," but this is only an indicator that she belongs to a man named Fred. Her real name in the time before, which was only about three or so years ago, was something else and is never mentioned.

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, one of the women assigned the task of attempting to bear a particular Commander's child. As we learn what her daily life is like, and how she came to be the narrator of this story, we also learn what her life used to be like in the time before, when she had a job, a husband, and a young daughter and was like any other contemporary woman.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

REVIEW: Play It Cool, Guys (manga, vol. 2) by Kokone Nata, translated by Amanda Haley

Play It Cool, Guys is a slice-of-life comedy series. I got this volume via interlibrary loan.


It's another volume of the daily lives of four clumsy/awkward good-looking guys. Shun worries about not being able to play with his teammates if he can't pass his exams, and Hayate finds himself agreeing to be Shun's tutor during his first day of work at Shun's older sister's cafe. Souma worries that his older brother is overworking himself, and both Takayuki and Hayate accidentally misjudge people (Shun and Souma, respectively) based on their appearance. The volume ends with the introduction of a fifth "clumsy-cool" guy.

REVIEW: The Library Liaison's Training Guide to Collection Management (nonfiction book) by Alison M. Armstrong and Lisa Dinkle

The Library Liaison's Guide to Collection Management is nonfiction. I read it for work-related reasons.


This book is designed to help Collection Development Librarians train library liaisons in their duties and let them know what will be expected of them. It recognizes that not every library's liaison program works the same and includes a variety of local practice questions that can help a new librarian pinpoint the ways in which their current library might differ from other places.

I was tempted to skip to Chapter 9, "Collection Assessment and Weeding," because I checked this out primarily in an effort to figure out ways to convince librarians who were reluctant to weed that they needed to do so. Since it was so short, however, I figured I'd just read the whole thing. Now that I have, I think it would also be useful for my library's current efforts to reconfigure our liaison program.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

REVIEW: Above All, Honor (book) by Radclyffe

Above All, Honor is the first book in Radclyffe's Honor series. The back of the book calls it "lesbian fiction." I went into it thinking it was lesbian romance, which I suppose it is, but it doesn't exactly follow the romance conventions I'm used to.

This review includes slight spoilers.


Cameron Roberts, a Secret Service Agent, has physically recovered from the assignment that killed the woman she loved, but she's not sure she'll ever be the same emotionally. She's initially frustrated when she's assigned to protect Blair Powell, the daughter of the President of the United States, thinking it'll be little more than a babysitting assignment and a waste of her skills. She soon realizes that guarding Blair is a lot more challenging than that. 

The First Daughter has had so little privacy most of her life that she now does everything she can to achieve moments of freedom. Although she behaves perfectly at public functions, she rarely tells her Secret Service agents her personal plans ahead of time, and she can be nearly unrecognizable when she wants to be. It's not unusual for her to slip off for one night stands with women who have no idea who she is. 

Cam intrigues Blair, but the agent is too tightly controlled and professional to let her own reaction show. However, keeping emotionally distant becomes more difficult when Blair finds herself the target of a stalker.

Monday, October 18, 2021

REVIEW: The Crossword Murder (e-book) by Nero Blanc

The Crossword Murder is a cozy mystery. I checked it out via OverDrive.


Thompson C. Briephs, an eccentric crossword puzzle editor, is found strangled to death. The police think it's kinky sex gone wrong, but Rosco Polycrates, a private investigator hired by the victim's mother, soon has reason to believe otherwise. In an effort to understand the victim and his world better, Rosco talks to Annabelle (Belle) Graham, another crossword puzzle editor, and the two find themselves more intrigued by and comfortable with each other than is maybe wise, considering that Belle is married.

Belle suspects that Briephs included a clue about his murderer's identity in one or more of several unpublished puzzles he created prior to his death. Unfortunately, most of the puzzles have gone missing. Even if that weren't the case, each puzzle includes a different name. How are they supposed to narrow things down, especially when several people had a motive for the murder?

Sunday, October 17, 2021

REVIEW: The Perfect Death (audiobook) by Stacy Claflin, narrated by Tina Wolstencroft

The Perfect Death is the first book in Claflin's Brannon House series. It reads a bit like a blend of mystery and chick lit. I checked it out via OverDrive.


Kenzi Brannon works for an agency that provides people with fake dates, fake fiancees, fake friends, etc., whatever they need in order to get through a public or family event with a minimum of stress and awkwardness. She's in the middle of a job, pretending to be a handsome and wealthy client's fake girlfriend, when she gets a call informing her that her estranged sister (whose name I can't remember) has committed suicide. As if that weren't enough of a shock, apparently her sister named her the guardian of Ember, her teenage niece. Although her sister's husband isn't Ember's biological father, he's been part of her life since she was two. Why leave Ember in the care of Kenzi, someone who barely knows her?

Thankfully, Kenzi's sister also left her their family's old home, because she wouldn't have the space to take Ember in otherwise. Unfortunately, the place has been abandoned for a few years and is a bit worse for the wear. Also, there are rumors it may be haunted. However, Kenzi has worse things to worry about, as she begins to suspect that her sister's death wasn't a suicide after all.

REVIEW: No One Gets Out Alive (book) by Adam Nevill

No One Gets Out Alive is horror. I got my copy via interlibrary loan.

This review includes mild spoilers.


The place Stephanie has just moved to is horrible, but it's not like she has many options. Jobs are hard to come by and all of the ones she's been able to find are temporary. It wouldn't be a good idea to go back to Ryan, her ex-boyfriend, and she definitely can't go back to her stepmother's house. This is the cheapest housing she's been able to find - it's either this or being homeless.

However, her experiences at 82 Edgehill Road quickly have her reweighing her options. On her first night, she can feel and hear presences in her room. Things get progressively worse, but she can't afford to go anyplace else if she doesn't get her deposit back, and Knacker McGuire, her landlord, is unlikely to part with any of it.

Supposedly there are other lodgers, all women, but although Stephanie hears people and the kitchen and bathroom are both shared spaces, she never sees anyone except Knacker. Just as she finds herself thinking that maybe she can get used to strange noises and crying in the night, the situation changes again and Stephanie's horror is renewed. At this point, however, it's too late to leave.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

REVIEW: The Silent Patient (audiobook) by Alex Michaelides, narrated by Jack Hawkins and Louise Brealey

The Silent Patient is a psychological thriller. I listened to it via OverDrive.


Alicia Berenson seemed to have a perfect life. She was a famous painter, and her husband Gabriel was a successful photographer. Her husband adored and supported her, and everyone seemed convinced that they loved each other. But if that was the case, then why did Alicia shoot her husband in the face five times when he came home late one evening, and why did she then slash her own wrists? Although Alicia's life was saved, she refused to say another word after that night.

Theo, a psychotherapist, is obsessed with Alicia's case. He's determined to find out what happened the night Gabriel died, and sure that he can help Alicia. However, Theo has his own issues: marital problems, as well as emotional scars from abuse he suffered at the hands of his father when he was a child. Is he perhaps growing too close to Alicia, seeing too much of himself in her?

REVIEW: Lock Every Door (book) by Riley Sager

Lock Every Door is a thriller. Or maybe a modern gothic? I bought my copy brand new.


Jules has hit rock bottom and has run out of options. She's been crashing at a friend's place ever since she caught her boyfriend cheating on her. No boyfriend, no home, and also no job. It's desperation that prompts her to respond to an ad for an apartment sitter, and once she sees the building she's sure she'll be turned down. The place is in the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most famous buildings and the setting for Jules' absolute favorite book.

It's like a dream come true. For three months she'll be making $4,000 a month to live in an amazing apartment. The only catch seems to be the rules that all apartment sitters are required to follow: no spending the night away from the apartment, no visitors (not even family members, not that Jules has any anymore), no talking to the residents unless they say something first, and no mentioning the Bartholomew on social media. Okay, so maybe the setup seems a little fishy, but rich people are weird and it's not inconceivable that they'd be willing to pay someone to watch out for an apartment and their stuff. Plus, that $12,000 would really help Jules out.

Unfortunately, the building has secrets, and it doesn't take long for it to turn into Jules' worst nightmare.

REVIEW: Project Hail Mary (book) by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary is science fiction. I bought my copy brand new.

Contains mild spoilers.


The main character wakes up with no memory of who he is, where he is, or what's going on. Memories gradually come back to him. His name is Ryland Grace, and he was part of a crew of three that was put in suspended animation on a ship called the Hail Mary. Why him? He doesn't know. What, specifically, was he supposed to do? He doesn't know that either. But he does know that his mission is vital to the survival of life on Earth, and since his two other crew members died at some point during the trip, he's going to have to accomplish his mystery mission on his own.

REVIEW: Till Death (live action movie)

Till Death is a horror thriller starring Megan Fox. I watched it on a whim.

At the beginning of the movie, Emma is cutting things off with Tom, the guy with whom she's been having an affair. He wants to meet one last time, but Emma says no - it's her anniversary, and Mark, her husband, has plans.

Things are tense between Mark and Emma, but she plays along and tries to look like she's enjoying their anniversary dinner. Then he takes her to a secluded lake house where they once spent happier times. It looks like he's set up a romantic evening, until Emma wakes up the next morning and finds herself handcuffed to him. Seconds after that discovery, Mark shoots himself in the head. Emma somehow has to break free from her husband and deal with the many traps and obstacles he's prepared for her.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

REVIEW: Punderworld (graphic novel, vol. 1) by Linda Sejic

Punderworld is a Greek mythology comic serialized on Webtoon. I bought my copy of this volume brand new.


Hades has been lovesick for Persephone for a century or two, but he's always been too shy to do anything about it. Plus, Persephone's mother, Demeter, is well-known for her stony attitude towards any of her daughter's potential suitors. And surely someone like Persephone would never be interested in a guy like Hades, her complete opposite.

Except she's definitely interested. But she doesn't even know who he is, and all her overprotective mother will tell her is that he's some minor god. It seems like the two will never get a chance to really spend some time with each other, until Zeus gets involved and does a little meddling.

REVIEW: Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto (audiobook) by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon, narrated by the authors

Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto is nonfiction. I listened to it through OverDrive.


This book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the New Horizons interplanetary space probe: what it took to get it funded, the work necessary to get the public excited about Pluto and the mission, some of the decision-making processes along the way, and more.

I didn't write it down, but I believe the primary narrator for this was David Grinspoon - Alan Stern also narrated a bit, but only small sections. (Or I mixed up the names and it's actually the reverse.) Although the narration wasn't terrible, and definitely communicated how exciting and nerve-wracking this mission was, I found myself wishing that it had been narrated by someone else. It took me longer than it should have to get through this book, two checkout periods, and my slight dislike of the narration was part of the reason why. Grinspoon's voice didn't quite work for me.

Monday, September 6, 2021

REVIEW: Library Technology Buying Strategies (nonfiction book) edited by Marshall Breeding

Library Technology Buying Strategies is a nonfiction book I read for work-related reasons. I got it via interlibrary loan.


I read Library Technology Buying Strategies partly to learn more about RFPs (request for proposal) and partly hoping to find tips for evaluating different integrated library systems (ILSs). It provided some of what I was looking for, but not quite in the way I'd hoped, and its organization was odd.

It started with a couple excellent chapters on RFPs - how they're structured, what questions a library needs to answer when writing one, and how to write one, including tips from vendor bid writers. These chapters made me exceedingly glad that I haven't been asked to write an RFP, although they provide excellent information that would make being asked to write one slightly less terrifying (librarytechnology.org, maintained by Marshall Breeding, is mentioned as a source of RFP examples, as well as lots of other library technology infrormation).

The rest of the book is more of a mixed bag. Chapters 3 and 4 cover resource sharing (interlibrary loan, consortial resource sharing) and the technological issues libraries need to consider. Chapters 5 and 6 cover cloud computing solutions (website hosting, server hosting, data storage, SaaS, ASP, PaaS, the pros and cons of cloud computing vs. local systems management, etc.). Chapter 7 covers library services platforms, which are a type of library resource management system that take a different approach than traditional ILSs. Some examples are Ex Libris' Alma, OCLC WorldShare Management Services, Kuali OLE, and Sierra. Breeding also considers SirsiDynix's BLUEcloud suite to be a library services platform, although at the moment it still relies on libraries to be using either SirsiDynix's Horizon or Symphony ILSs. The final chapter covers criteria to consider when purchasing e-book platforms.

REVIEW: Invisible Differences: A Story of Asperger's, Adulting and Living a Life in Full Color (graphic novel) story by Julie Dachez, adaptation, illustration, and colors by Mademoiselle Caroline, inspired by and in collaboration with Fabienne Vaslet

Invisible Differences: A Story of Asperger's, Adulting, and Living a Life in Full Color is, from what I can determine, an at least semi-autobiographical graphic novel. The main character is named Marguerite, but I'm fairly certain her experiences are based on Julie Dachez's own experiences with being diagnosed with Asperger's.

The story takes place somewhere in France. Marguerite is 27, has an office job she doesn't enjoy, and a routine she rarely deviates from. Her happiest time is when she's at home with her cats and little dog. Unfortunately, at work she's considered rude for not making smalltalk with people or going out to lunch with her coworkers. The open office plan makes it impossible for her to concentrate, and Marguerite's preference for loose and comfortable clothing is viewed as unprofessional. Her personal life isn't necessarily peaceful either - her boyfriend Florian wants her to go out with him more, but social situations exhaust her.

Eventually Marguerite is diagnosed with Asperger's and finds it liberating. It reassures her that there's nothing wrong with her - she's just different.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

REVIEW: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept.: The Complete Series (anime TV series)

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. is a political thriller that feels like a slice-of-life story, or occasionally even like a strange comedy. It was an impulse purchase during a Right Stuf sale. I hadn't heard anything about it and wasn't expecting much from it, so it was a pleasant surprise when it turned out to be really good.

That said, I spent a good portion of the beginning of the series with no clue what kind of show I was watching. ACCA takes place on an island composed of 13 territories, each with a vastly different culture and way of life. ACCA is an organization that was originally created to protect the kingdom's peace and guard against the threat of a coup d'etat. Jean Otus, a member of ACCA's Inspection Department, travels to each of the 13 territories and attempts to figure out whether there's really a coup brewing in this seemingly peaceful land. What he doesn't initially realize, however, is that his actions are being interpreted by nearly everyone around him as signs that he's involved in the supposed coup.

Was the coup real, or a paranoid bureaucratic fantasy? Was I watching some kind of absurdist comedy or an actual political thriller that just happened to contain frequent snack breaks?

Monday, August 30, 2021

REVIEW: Giant Spider & Me: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale (manga, vol. 1) by Kikori Morino, translated by Adrienne Beck

Giant Spider & Me is a post-apocalyptic slice-of-life story. I bought my copy of this volume brand new.


Twelve-year-old Nagi lives alone in the little house she and her father moved into three years ago. Her father likes to go exploring, but it's been longer than usual since Nagi last heard from him. Still, she tries to stay cheerful, taking care of her garden, making good food, and occasionally going to the nearby village market.

Then one day she encounters an enormous spider. She's scared at first, but it seems friendly, so she feeds it, names it "Asa," and begins trying to learn more about it and communicate with it.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

REVIEW: Play It Cool, Guys (manga, vol. 1) by Kokone Nata, translated by Amanda Haley

Play It Cool, Guys is a slice-of-life comedy series. I got this volume via interlibrary loan.


This full-color manga stars four different "clumsy-cool" guys: Hayate Ichikura (age 20, college student), the "embarrassed and introspective" type; Shun Futami (age 17, high school student), the "bluffing stoic" type; Takayuki Mima (age 27, working adult), the "unaware and unaffected" type; and Souma Shiki (age 19, vocational college student), the "self-accepting positive" type. Each guy is introduced with examples of how they manage to remain cool despite being awkward or clumsy, and each section transitions to the next guy by having the previous one bump into the new one. By the last few chapters, however, their paths start to cross in more significant ways.

REVIEW: My Hero Academia, Season One (anime TV series)

My Hero Academia is a superhero series based on a manga of the same title. I bought my copy of this season brand new.


In the world of this series, people started mysteriously developing superpowers, called Quirks, some time ago. Now 80% of the world has them, and they're seen as normal.

Izuku Midoriya has looked up to the hero All Might since he was a child and always wanted to be just like him, so it was a huge blow when a doctor told him that he was Quirkless. Now that he's older, it's still his dream to attend U.A. High School, the top school for prospective heroes, but is that even possible for someone without a Quirk? Then one day he encounters All Might, learns his hero's biggest secret, and is gifted powers that could make his dream a reality, if he can ever figure out how to control them.

REVIEW: At War with Yourself (graphic novel) by Samuel C. Williams

At War with Yourself is a nonfiction graphic novel about the author's friend's experiences with PTSD. It was one of my library checkouts.


Samuel C. Williams is a UK-based illustrator and comic artist who decides, with his friend Matt's permission and approval, to make a graphic novel about Matt's experiences with PTSD. As he and Matt walk, Matt talks about things like his PTSD symptoms, the way his military training has played into some of those symptoms, his triggers, and the way therapy helped him understand what was going on with him and learn practical calming mechanisms. His wife also briefly talks about Matt's sometimes very violent dreams.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

REVIEW: Sunshine Cleaning (live action movie)

Sunshine Cleaning is a 2008 drama. I bought my copy brand new.


In high school, Rose was a popular cheerleader with a handsome boyfriend. Years later, she's a single mom who works for a cleaning service. She tells everyone she's taking real estate classes when in reality she's meeting up with her old high school boyfriend, who's now a married cop. When her son's behavior gets him kicked out of school, she decides to try her hand at crime scene cleaning, because she heard it was lucrative and the money could help her get him into a good private school. She can't do it alone, so she enlists her sister's help.

What starts off as a way to make some cash turns into something more, as both sisters think more deeply about their lives, their relationships, and their memories of their mother.

REVIEW: Sudden Position Guide to Acquisitions (nonfiction book) by Deborah Hathaway, Paul Kelsey, Stacey Marien, and Susan E. Thomas

Sudden Position Guide to Acquisitions is nonfiction. I read it for work-related reasons and got my copy via interlibrary loan.


Don't let this book's slim size fool you - it's an excellent resource, and I can't recommend it highly enough for someone who's either just gotten their first job as an Acquisitions Librarian or who has suddenly had Acquisitions duties added on to their regular duties. I was facing the latter situation when I originally requested this via ILL, and if library administration hadn't suddenly changed their mind and given those duties to someone else, I'd have purchased a copy and kept it on hand as I tried to learn my new job. As it is, I'd like to own a copy simply because it's helpful for understanding work that overlaps somewhat with my own (I'm a cataloger).

Monday, August 16, 2021

REVIEW: The Cat Proposed (manga) by Dento Hayane, translated by Katie Kimura

The Cat Proposed is a fantasy BL one-shot manga. It's licensed by Tokyopop. I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes spoilers.


Souta is so overworked he's to the point of considering suicide. He snaps out of it, barely, and finds himself taking a detour to listen to a kodan storyteller. As the storyteller transitions to a story about a bakeneko, a type of supernatural cat that can transform into a human, Souta sees the storyteller briefly transform into a bakeneko. He figures it's just exhaustion, until the storyteller, Kihachi, confirms it and says that they're now both bound by bakeneko rules. Souta must agree to become Kihachi's mate and not reveal the existence of bakeneko to other humans, or both he and Kihachi will be killed.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

REVIEW: Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (manga, vol. 1) by Motoro Mase, translated by John Werry

Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit is dystopian psychological fiction. It's licensed by VIZ. I bought this volume used.


Content warning for this volume: on-page bullying and rape.

In this version of Japan, there's something called the National Welfare Act. In elementary school, all children are vaccinated against various diseases. Some of the injections include a special nanocapsule that eventually comes to rest in the child's pulmonary artery, where it ruptures on a specified day and time, at some point between their 18th and 24th birthday. No one knows who has a capsule inside them, and the goal is to make citizens value their lives more and increase their productivity. Any citizens who object to this system are immediately injected with a capsule.

Fujimoto has just started working as a messenger, one of the people whose job is to deliver ikigami, death papers. These are given to citizens 24 hours before they're scheduled to die, so that they may better appreciate their last 24 hours. The families they leave behind will be given a bereavement pension, unless they choose to spend their last 24 hours committing crimes, in which case there is no bereavement pension and the family must pay large fines as compensation.

This particular volume features the delivery of two ikigami, one to a man who was bullied so severely when he was in high school that it derailed his entire life, and one to a young singer/guitarist who has lost sight of what's really important to him in his quest to become famous.

REVIEW: Sweet Admiration (book) by Yuuki Kousaka, illustrated by Midori Shena, translated by Andria Cheng

Sweet Admiration is a yaoi novel, basically m/m contemporary romance. My records tell me I bought it brand new, and it looks like it can be purchased for a reasonable price.

This review includes major spoilers.


Katsuya and Kazuki befriended each other over the course of a summer when they were kids, and they kept in touch after Kazuki went back to the city. While Katsuya considers Kazuki a friend, the person he really can't forget is Shio, Kazuki's older brother. It's now 12 years later, and Katsuya has decided to take a risk and accept a job with a small company Shio helped found in the hope of seeing Shio again.

However, things don't go quite the way he planned. Shio doesn't actually spend much time at the company now, and the company housing Katsuya was promised may have been a lie. Katsuya resigns himself to not seeing Shio, but the question of his housing really needs to be settled, so he confronts the company president about it...and gets assigned to a "company dorm" that's actually Shio's condo. Katsuya isn't sure whether to be happy or horrified. On the one hand, he gets to spend time with his childhood crush. On the other hand, Shio has made it clear that he's only putting up with this arrangement because the company president asked him to.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

REVIEW: Beautiful People (manga anthology) by Mitsukazu Mihara, translated by Haruko Furukawa

Beautiful People is a manga anthology that ranges from fantasy to contemporary drama to apocalyptic fiction. It was originally published by Tokyopop and is now out of print. I bought my copy used.


Like many anthologies, this had a mixture of so-so, not so great, and good stories. Overall, I'd say the collection was so-so. "Blue Sky" was very good, "Princess White Snow" was decent but a bit off-putting, and "The Lady Stalker" was creepy. The rest of the stories weren't necessarily terrible but didn't really work for me.

Something about Mihara's artwork occasionally reminded me of Paradise Kiss - probably the elaborate clothes. I wasn't really a fan, but again, it wasn't necessarily terrible.

Like I do for most short anthologies, I'll go over the stories one by one.

REVIEW: Sorcerers & Secretaries (OEL manga, vol. 2) by Amy Kim Ganter

Sorcerers & Secretaries is a contemporary romance series. It was originally published by Tokyopop. It looks like the author now goes by Amy Kim Kibuishi.

I bought this volume used. This review includes spoilers.


Nicole has decided to cut things off with Josh because being with him distracts her from the story she's been writing about Ellon. However, when Josh chases after her and asks for an explanation she finds herself telling him about the story - and then he even reads part of it in her dreamlog and loves it. From that point on, Josh becomes Nicole's writing cheerleader, encouraging her to finish the story so she can submit it to a magazine. He still loves Nicole, but he's determined not to let it show so he doesn't mess things up again. However, things come to a head as Nicole is forced to choose between studying enough to pass the business classes her mom wants her to take and finishing the story in time for the magazine deadline.

REVIEW: Sorcerers & Secretaries (OEL manga, vol. 1) by Amy Kim Ganter

Sorcerers & Secretaries is, I believe, a contemporary romance series with possible fantasy elements. It was originally published by Tokyopop. It looks like the author now goes by Amy Kim Kibuishi.

I bought this volume used.


Nicole has extremely vivid dreams and daydreams about a lonely sorcerer named Ellon who was betrayed by his familiar and only friend, Sonneth. She writes these vivid dreams into her dreamlog, paying only the most minimal attention necessary to things like her business classes and her friend Susan. At night she works as a secretary.

Josh is a bookstore employee who's gotten all his tips about interacting with women from Riley, a pickup artist who happens to be his roommate. Female customers practically fall over themselves to give Josh their number, which he always deposits in a jar. The person he's really interested in is Nicole, who he was never able to charm. When Nicole enters his store, Josh figures he'll give it another shot, but he doesn't realize that he's competing against Nicole's daydreams about Ellon.

REVIEW: Sword of Destiny: Tales of the Witcher (book) by Andrzej Sapkowski, translated by David French

Sword of Destiny is another anthology of Witcher stories. I'm not really sure about the series chronology, but it was sold in a set with The Last Wish, as though it followed that anthology. Goodreads tells me that starting with The Last Wish and then Sword of Destiny is the best reading order.


The stories in this Witcher anthology are all on the long side, a change from The Last Wish. Also, there are no efforts that I could recall to transition from one story to the next, although several of the stories do naturally work well in the order in which they're included.

Geralt encounters a mermaid and other sea creatures, dryads, a dragon, and a shapeshifter. He also deals with further complications in his relationship with Yennefer and finds himself face-to-face with a destiny he's not entirely sure he wants anymore but can't avoid.

REVIEW: Sadako-san and Sadako-chan (manga) by Aya Tsutsumi, original concept by Koji Suzuki, translated by Thomas Zimmerman

Sadako-san and Sadako-chan is based on Koji Suzuki's Ring franchise, but this one-shot is actually a comedy. It's licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment. I bought my copy brand new.


Sadako-san, the ghost from the Ring movies and books, has been summoned to a padlocked closet, the location of her newest victim. Inside the closet is a little girl who says her mother calls her Sadako's reincarnation. Her mother supposedly keeps her locked in the closet because she's "special" (the girl can read minds, which is how she can understand Sadako-san) and only lets her out for short periods when she's home.

The little girl has been called "Sadako's reincarnation" for so long that she can't remember what her real name is, so Sadako-san calls her "Sadako-chan." Sadako-san laments the fact that people don't have CRT TVs or watch videos much anymore, so Sadako-chan proposes that she upload cursed videos and become a streamer. Through these activities, Sadako-san eventually meets Kazuma, a streamer who's a little creeped out by her but also impressed with the number of views she's been getting.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

REVIEW: The First Stage of Love (manga anthology) by Kazuhiko Mishima, translated by Melanie Schoen

The First Stage of Love is essentially a manga anthology, since it's composed of multiple stories and no single story dominates. It's published by DMP's Juné imprint, and it looks like it can still be purchased relatively inexpensively. I bought my copy used.

Parts of this review include spoilers.


Since this is basically composed of a series of unrelated stories, I think it'll work best if I discuss them one at a time. However, I'll say that, overall, I liked this volume quite a bit. The art style wasn't really to my taste - most of the couples looked enough alike that you could have shuffled them up and it wouldn't have been particularly noticeable. But the stories were generally sweet and enjoyable, and no one was cruel or rapey.

REVIEW: Don't Rush Love (manga) by Mio Tennohji, translated by Leona Wong

Don't Rush Love is contemporary-set yaoi manga. Like so many of these volumes I own, it appears to be out of print. It was originally licensed by 801 Media. I bought my copy used.

This review includes major spoilers.


Morino just transferred to a new school and immediately falls head-over-heels in love with Kusama, a handsome volleyball player who turns out to be his new roommate. However, he also notices the way Kusama looks at Kanzaki-sensei, and since Kusama is out until late every night, he figures the two of them are in a secret relationship.

He eventually learns that Kusama actually has unrequited feelings for Kanzaki-sensei and deals with it by going out every night to have meaningless sex. Unable to bear seeing his crush go out like that, Morino confesses his feelings to Kusama and proposes that Kusama use him instead to forget Kanzaki-sensei. To his surprise, Kusama agrees. However, this arrangement may be more emotionally difficult than either one of them anticipates.

REVIEW: Cute Devil (manga) by Hiro Madarame

Cute Devil is yaoi manga published by Tokyopop's old Blu imprint. It's now out of print and looks to be extremely expensive to buy online. I'm pretty sure I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes spoilers.


Akiyoshi has always had a bit of a complex about his effeminate looks, so he can't help but feel a bit sorry for Naruse (called by his given name, Fuuta, by most of the class), who's even prettier than he is. Still, when Naruse asks Akiyoshi to be his friend, he has no intention of saying yes. Which is when Naruse reveals his hidden devilish side. He wants to have sex with Akiyoshi and had initially planned to gradually win him over, but if Akiyoshi won't play along, then Naruse figures he'll just rape him. And so he does.

And that's how things continue. Akiyoshi can't say anything to anyone because Naruse's so good at pretending to be a delicate flower that no one would believe him. Plus, there's the issue that he kind of enjoyed it.

REVIEW: La Esperança (manga, vol. 2) by Chigusa Kawai, translated by Sachiko Sato

La Esperança is a school drama series with light BL romance elements. It was licensed by Digital Manga Publishing and appears to be out of print now. I bought my copy of this volume used.

This review includes spoilers.


Ever since meeting Robert, Georges has started to open up a little. He's always been friendly but a little unapproachable. While his friend Henri appreciates the changes he's noticing in Georges, it bothers him that Robert was the one to inspire them. Does Georges really view him, Henri, as a true friend, or would he act just as friendly with anyone else?

Next is a story about Georges meeting a boy named Chris who works for a charity. Robert and others warn Georges that the charity Chris works for is really a front for a group that's up to no good, but Chris seems like such a nice guy that Georges can't bring himself to doubt him.

After that are two stories still set in the same world, but starring, I think, very minor characters from the main story. Erwin accidentally runs into a girl named Cecile, who becomes convinced that he's her soulmate. The volume wraps up with a story about Erwin's friend Joshua, who has an unrequited crush on the dorm Patron.

REVIEW: La Esperança (manga, vol. 1) by Chigusa Kawai, translated by Sachiko Sato

La Esperança is a school drama series with (so far) light BL romance elements. It was licensed by Digital Manga Publishing and appears to be out of print now. I bought my copy used.

This review includes slight spoilers.


Georges is well-liked by everyone at his school. He helps everyone feel at ease, but he also keeps everyone at a distance due to feelings of guilt about the lives his father has ruined. Then a transfer student named Robert arrives and begins shaking everything up. Robert seems determined to dislike Georges, telling him that he knows his purity and perfection are only a mask and that he's going to rip away. Even so, Georges is determined to befriend him, forcing Robert to confront the things about his own past that Georges reminds him of.

Monday, August 2, 2021

REVIEW: A Man and His Cat (manga, vol. 2) by Umi Sakurai, translated by Taylor Engel

A Man and His Cat is a slice-of-life series. I bought my copy of this volume brand new.


Fukumaru and Mr. Kanda continue to make an adorable little family, although Fukumaru has some leftover worries that Mr. Kanda might ditch him for a cuter cat. We see a little more of the pet store employee who first helped Mr. Kanda, Mr. Kanda's coworkers, Mr. Kanda's friend Kobayashi, and even some flashbacks to Mr. Kanda's time with his wife. We also learn a little about Mr. Kanda's childhood.

I was not quite in the right mood to read this volume when I first started it. It seemed very aimless in every way to me, and I kept trying to recall whether volume 1 had given me a similar impression. But I continued on, and after a certain point the volume grew on me. I'm still not really a fan of Fukumaru's design, although I suppose that's the point - he's an odd-looking cat for everyone except Mr. Kanda. 

REVIEW: Angels of Death (anime TV series)

Angels of Death is a psychological thriller series based on a game. I watched it on Funimation's streaming service.


Content warning for this series, beyond all the murderers: child abuse.

Rachel Gardner wakes up in the basement of a strange building with no memory of how she got there. The last thing she can recall is going to see a doctor because she'd witnessed a terrible murder. It isn't long before Zack, a scythe-wielding serial killer, finds her and tries to kill her. However, Zack isn't the only deadly person in the building - and all of them want to kill Rachel. Luckily (I guess), Rachel soon decides that she actually wants to die...but she wants Zack to be the one to kill her, and he won't do it unless she helps him escape.