Sunday, March 28, 2021

Heaven Official's Blessing is coming to Netflix!

I just noticed it in the "coming next week" section. Yes, I'll probably be rewatching it, or at least most of it, to see whether the subtitles are better. This is part of the reason why my streaming queues are never-ending.

(Currently watching: Lupin on Netflix and Bungo and Alchemist: Gears of Judgement on Funimation. Lupin is pretty good, even though I can't always follow Assane's various tricks very well. Bungo and Alchemist is not really all that good, but my lack of familiarity with most of the works and authors mentioned may be part of the problem.)

REVIEW: Her Pretty Face (book) by Robyn Harding

Her Pretty Face is a domestic thriller.

This review includes spoilers.


Frances Metcalfe is a stay-at-home mom struggling with low self-esteem and loneliness. Her 11-year-old son, Marcus, is difficult and prone to tantrums and acting out. Her husband works long hours at his tech job, so she's left to figure things out on her own, but she has no idea what to do. She doesn't even have another mom friend to turn to, someone who might understand what she's going through, because she can't seem to connect with any of the wealthy and beautiful parents at her son's private school.

But things change when Frances meets Kate. Kate is everything Frances is not, and yet somehow this confident and beautiful woman seems happy to be Frances's friend, to defend her when the other moms look down their noses at her. Marcus and Kate's son, Charles, become friends as well, and it does wonders for Marcus's behavior.

There's a problem, though. Both Kate and Frances are hiding things, and although they've both run away from their pasts, it isn't possible to leave them behind forever. One of them is really Amber Kunik, a woman who, years ago, helped rape, torture, and kill a 15-year-old girl.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

REVIEW: The Girl with the Sanpaku Eyes (manga, vol. 1) by Shunsuke Sorato, translated by David Goldberg

The Girl with the Sanpaku Eyes is a romantic comedy series. It's licensed by Denpa. I got my copy via interlibrary loan.


The translator never really says what "sanpaku eyes" are, although the author afterword indicates that they're eyes that don't sparkle. Googling tells me that they're eyes where you can see white space either above or below the iris. I've seen one anime that I know of that used the term - Log Horizon, in which the main character was said to have sanpaku eyes - and viewers were told that this meant he looked evil. In The Girl with the Sanpaku Eyes, it seems to indicate that the main character is intimidating and has an unfortunate case of "resting bitch face."

Anyway, Amane Mizuno may look intimidating and prickly on the outside, but inside she's sweet, pure, and more than a little awkward. She has an enormous crush on Mitsuhide Katou, the guy who sits next to her in class, but she has such a hard time talking to him that just saying "good morning" back when he greets her is a huge accomplishment.

In this volume, readers meet Amane, Katou, Amane's friends (Miyo Takiya and Yui Kawamura), and Amane's older brother. Amane interacts with Katou a bit and attempts to work up the courage to cheer him on during the school sports meet.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

REVIEW: The Cater Street Hangman (audiobook) by Anne Perry, narrated by Davina Porter

The Cater Street Hangman is a historical mystery. I checked it out via Overdrive.


Cater Street is being stalked by a murderer, and when a maid in the Ellison household is garroted, the tension becomes unbearable. Women have to be careful never to go out alone. Men find themselves wondering if someone they know is the murderer, and wives begin to doubt their own husbands. Inspector Thomas Pitt must somehow navigate upper-class society's secrets to figure out the murder's identity. As he does so, he becomes closer to Charlotte Ellison, who's still nursing a secret crush on her sister's husband.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

REVIEW: My Sister, the Serial Killer (book) by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, the Serial Killer is a psychological thriller. I bought my copy used.

This review includes spoilers.


This is set in Lagos, Nigeria. When Korede's younger sister, Ayoola, calls and asks for her help after killing a man, Korede is more resigned than shocked. The man is Femi, Ayoola's boyfriend, and he's the third person she has killed. Ayoola says that he was angry with her, that she killed him in self-defense. She said that before about the other two, and Korede is no longer sure she believes her. But Ayoola is her sister, so she helps her clean up all traces of blood and dispose of the body.

Ayoola quickly moves on, but Korede can't stop thinking about Femi. She copes by focusing on her job (she's a nurse) and confiding in the one person she knows who won't spill her secrets, a coma patient at her hospital. However, when Ayoola's dangerous beauty threatens to ensnare Tade, a doctor Korede is secretly in love with, Korede must decide how far she's really willing to go to protect her sister.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

REVIEW: Yes, No, or Maybe? (book) by Michi Ichiho, illustrated by Lala Takemiya, translated by Molly Lee

Yes, No, or Maybe? is m/m contemporary romance. It's licensed by Seven Seas. I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes spoilers. If you'd like to avoid those, check out the cross-posted versions on either Goodreads or Librarything, where I can use spoiler tags.


Kunieda Kei is a charming and well-liked TV newscaster. He's just as charming off-camera - he's always nice, eats healthy food, never complains, and does his job perfectly. However, he has a secret: it's all a lie. The real Kunieda Kei, the person he is when he gets home, complains about everything, gets mad at his coworkers all the time, dresses like a slob, and loves eating cheap beef bowls.

The only person who knows what his real self is like is his mother, which suits him just fine. His public persona will never draw disapproval or nasty comments from tabloids, the public, or his coworkers, and his professional life will continue on exactly the path he wants. Then he meets Tsuzuki Ushio, a famous stop motion animator, and the carefully constructed separation between his public and private selves begins to crumble. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

REVIEW: The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent (manga, vol. 1) story by Yuka Tachibana, art by Fujiazuki, character design by Yasuyuki Syuri, translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian

The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent is isekai fantasy based on a light novel series with the same title. I bought my copy brand new.


Sei arrives home one evening after a long day at work only to suddenly find herself transported into a new world where a magical miasma has caused a monster problem. Normally a saint is summoned when the miasma monsters become too bad for normal people to deal with, but for some reason this time two saints appeared, Sei and another woman named Aira. To Sei's annoyance, the eldest prince warmly welcomes Aira and completely ignores her. If that's how it's going to be, she figures they can let her go home. However, that's not possible, so Sei tries to put up with her new life as best she can. Bored, she finds herself drawn to the Medicinal Flora Research Institute, where she's soon given a job.

While at the Research Institute, Sei begins to learn about the various things she can do with medicinal herbs in this world, as well as the ways in which her abilities seem to be different from what other people can do.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

REVIEW: Scumbag System, Season 1 (CGI donghua TV series)

Scumbag System is based on a Chinese BL fantasy web novel I've generally seen translated as The Scum Villain's Self-Saving System. I watched it on Tencent Video's Youtube channel, which I'm fairly certain is official, since Tencent is listed as one of the show's producers.


The protagonist (Shen Yuan) is a contemporary Chinese guy who's just finished a very long web novel and is looking forward to trashing it in online forums. However, in the middle of typing his comment, he chokes on a meat bun and is transported into the novel.

The novel's villain, Shen Qingque, is the Lord of Qing Jing Peak and master of Luo Binghe, the novel's protagonist. He not only stands by as his other disciples bully and beat Luo Binghe, he also beats Luo Binghe. Binghe eventually masters demonic cultivation and, long story short, hunts down anyone who ever abused him, beats them, and makes any young and attractive women in their lives (their daughters, female childhood friends, etc.) fall in love with him and join his massive harem. Eventually he traps Shen Qingque in a pot and, I think, tortures and/or kills him.

Shen Yuan's problem is that he wasn't reborn as Luo Binghe, the protagonist with invincible plot armor. No, he was reborn as Shen Qingque, and if he can't figure out how to change the story, he's going to end up a broken man trapped inside a pot. Unfortunately for him, the mysterious System that transported him into the novel also has a few rules for him to follow. At least initially, he's not allowed to behave out of character without losing B points, and if his B points drop to zero, he's dead.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

REVIEW: Kaguya-sama: Love is War, Season 1 (anime TV series)

Kaguya-sama: Love is War is a romantic comedy series. I watched it on Funimation's streaming service.


Kaguya is Vice President of the Shuchi'in Academy Student Council. She's a brilliant and wealthy young lady who has been raised since birth to think of all her social interactions and relationships, including love, as power struggles. She's initially amused when she learns that much of her school thinks that she and Shirogane, the Student Council President, are a couple. They're not a couple, but she decides that she wouldn't mind dating him, as long as he asks her first. After all, in romantic relationships, the first person to admit their feelings aloud is at a disadvantage.

Shirogane, the President of the Shuchi'in Academy Student Council, comes from an ordinary family and isn't naturally brilliant, so he maintains his reputation and status at the school by studying every chance he gets. He's pretty sure Kaguya sees him as beneath her but decides that he'd be okay with dating her...if she asked him first. 

Although neither one of them is willing to admit it to themselves, they're both in love with each other. Will they be too stubborn to ever admit it?

REVIEW: Bofuri: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, So I'll Max Out My Defense, Season 1 (anime TV series)

Bofuri: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, So I'll Max Out My Defense is technically a sci-fi series, since it's focused on a pair of teen girls who play a highly advanced VRMMORPG. However, since it mostly takes place in the RPG world, it feels like fantasy. I watched it on Funimation's streaming service.

Some aspects of this review may count as slight spoilers.


Kaede's never been much of a gamer, but she gives NewWorld Online, a VRMMORPG, a try on the recommendation of Risa, her best friend. Risa can't start yet due to needing to concentrate on her schoolwork, so Kaede does her best to figure things out on her own. She names her avatar Maple and, because she doesn't want to get hurt, puts all of her skill points on defense. Initially, this looks like a bad move - because she has no points on Agility, she can't move fast, and her attacks are weak and limited to trying to hit enemies with her shield or just plain falling on them.

However, with a bit of luck and a tendency to try out wacky things like eating her enemies to death, Maple manages to acquire some amazing skills. Eventually, Risa (called "Sally" in the game) joins her and chooses to play the swashbuckler class. They gradually grow stronger, make friends, and participate in in-game events.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

REVIEW: The Rising of the Shield Hero, Vol. 1 (book) by Aneko Yusagi

The Rising of the Shield Hero is isekai fantasy. It's licensed by One Peace Books. I bought my copy used. Oddly, I can't find any mention of the translator's name on the book. Does One Peace not credit them?

Anyway, this review is chock-full of spoilers. Read at your own risk, or check out the cross-posted versions on Goodreads or LibraryThing, where I have the ability to use spoiler tags. (I opted to hide the whole review on Goodreads, so LibraryThing, where I spoiler tagged just what I considered the most spoilery bits, is probably the better option.)


Naofumi Iwatani is an otaku college student. His life, up to this point, has been pretty easy - his parents haven't put much pressure on him, and his otaku interests actually managed to keep his brother from becoming a full-blown delinquent. He's in the library one day when he spots a book call The Records of the Four Holy Weapons, which mentions four different heroes: the Sword Hero, Spear Hero, Bow Hero, and Shield Hero. Shortly after finding this book, Naofumi is magically summoned to another world where he is one of those four heroes...the worst and most useless one, the Shield Hero. He can only defend, not attack, and his magical shield won't permit him to carry any additional weapons. He can't even team up with any of the other three heroes, because their weapons cancel each other out.

Because he's so weak and knows even less about this new world than the other heroes, he has trouble getting anyone to join his party, and what help he does receive turns out to be a trap. Is there no one in this horrible world that he can trust? Somehow he has to survive the waves of enemies that he and the other heroes have been summoned to fight, so that he can hopefully figure out a way to return home.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

REVIEW: I'm in Love with the Villainess, Vol. 1 (book) by Inori, illustrated by Hanagata, translated by Jenn Yamazaki

I'm in Love with the Villainess is isekai fantasy with a lesbian main character - don't be like me and go into it expecting it to be f/f romance. It's licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment. I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes slight spoilers.


In her previous life, Rae worked for a company that sucked all the hope and joy out of her life. The only thing she looked forward to was her favorite otome game, Revolution, which she loved enough to write fanfic for. However, rather than being a fan of one of the various romanceable prince characters, Rae's most beloved character was Claire, the villainess. When Rae finds herself suddenly part of the world of Revolution, in the body of the heroine, her top goal becomes to stay by Claire's side, support her, and help her achieve as good of a life as possible. Since Claire's fate in the game is either bankruptcy or death, Rae has her work cut out for her.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

REVIEW: The Carnival of Death (anthology) by L. Ron Hubbard

The Carnival of Death is a collection of two of L. Ron Hubbard's pulp fiction stories ("anthology" might not be the right word, but I couldn't think of a better one). 


I got this for free at a conference ages ago. It features a foreword by Kevin J. Anderson, two stories by L. Ron Hubbard ("The Carnival of Death" and "The Death Flyer" - both of which are accompanied by black and white illustrations), a brief preview of Hubbard's "Mouthpiece," a glossary of 1930s and 1940s words and expression used in the stories, and a 9-page overview of L. Ron Hubbard's writing life (nothing negative, and not a single mention of Scientology).

Kevin J. Anderson's foreword had nothing but glowing praise for pulp fiction, which I suppose would have been fine if it hadn't been for the implication that pulp fiction of the 1930s and 1940s was better and more enjoyable than most fiction published today. "These tales will return you to a time when fiction was good clean entertainment and the most fun a kid could have on a rainy afternoon or the best thing an adult could enjoy after a long day at work" (x-xi). That kid and adult are almost certainly white and male, and their "good clean entertainment" has a high concentration of violence and death.

I'd probably have disliked "The Carnival of Death" regardless, but Anderson's foreword certainly didn't help.

Monday, March 8, 2021

REVIEW: In the Hall with the Knife: A Clue Mystery (book) by Diana Peterfreund

In the Hall with the Knife is a YA contemporary mystery based on the Clue game franchise. It's the first book in a series. I got my copy via interlibrary loan.


Blackbrook Academy is an elite prep school in Maine. Its location is remote, and its students are largely rich, brilliant, and dedicated. When a snowstorm and on-campus flooding traps several remaining students, Headmaster Boddy, and Mrs. White in Tudor House, an old mansion that serves as an all-girls dorm, it initially seems like their biggest problems will be boredom and the cold temperatures. Then Orchid McKee stumbles across Headmaster Boddy, a knife buried deep in his chest.

Was it an accident? Suicide? (Obviously not, but at least one student thinks it's a possibility.) Or murder? The last option seems most likely, but if that's the case, who did it? The most comforting theory is that it was a looter, and whoever it was is long gone. Otherwise, the killer had to have been one of them. Everyone at Blackbrook Academy has something that they're hiding, and there's no telling what one of them might have done to protect their secrets.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

REVIEW: City of Bastards (book) by Andrew Shvarts

City of Bastards is the second book in Shvarts' Royal Bastards trilogy. It's YA fantasy.

This review includes slight spoilers.


Tilla spent the first book on the run from her own father after witnessing him commit murder and pit himself and the West against the Volaris King. In this book, Tilla is finally safe and secure, at least on the surface. She and her friends are now in the capital of Lightspire, under the protection of Lyriana's father, the King. However kind the King is towards her, she's well aware that others see her as nothing more than the daughter of a traitor. She at least has her relationship with Zell, but there are times when he's closed off and unhappy. Even Lyriana is having trouble adjusting to "normal" life - the formerly dutiful princess now spends an awful lot of time partying, drinking, and hooking up with random young nobles.

When one of Tilla's friends ends up dead, she's one of the only people to suspect that it was murder rather than suicide. As she tries to figure out the truth, she's forced to question who she can trust and how safe her current position really is.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

REVIEW: Cells at Work!, Season 1 (anime TV series)

Cells at Work! is a combination comedy, workplace, and edutainment anime series. The first season is 13 episodes long, plus one OVA.


Red Blood Cell works hard and has her heart in the right place, but she tends to get a little lost when attempting to deliver oxygen and nutrients. She also has terrible luck when it comes to staying safe - she encounters viruses and dangerous bacteria with alarming frequency. Luckily, whenever disaster strikes White Blood Cell (Neutrophil) is there to save the day.

Each episode in the first season deals with a different topic: how the body defends itself against viruses, bacteria, and cancer, how minor injuries are repaired, what the various cells do, etc. All of the body's cells are anthropomorphized. Red Blood Cell is depicted as a delivery girl (possibly a sickle cell, based on her sickle-shaped lock of hair and her difficulty with circulating properly). White Blood Cell is dressed in a white uniform and behaves fiercely and violently at the slightest sign that invaders are present. Killer T Cells are musclebound military men, Macrophages are murderous maids, Platelets are adorable little children, and so on.