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.