Sunday, January 30, 2022

REVIEW: The Savior's Book Cafe Story in Another World (manga, vol. 1) based on the novels by Kyouka Izumi, story by Oumiya, art by Reiko Sakurada

The Savior's Book Cafe Story in Another World is yet another isekai fantasy manga based on a light novel series. It's licensed by Seven Seas. I bought my copy new.


When Tsukina is approached by a floating orb claiming to be God, who tells her that she's been summoned to another world in order to be its savior, she says no thanks. God is somewhat taken aback, since everyone else seemed thrilled to be summoned and couldn't wait to start their new lives. However, all those other people were starry-eyed teenagers, and Tsukina is a single thirty-something with a stable job and a quiet life that she enjoys. She has no desire to fight monsters and face danger.

God tells her that this summoning in nonnegotiable, but if she'd prefer, she could live a quiet life and just be on standby in case another savior needs help. Tsukina reluctantly agrees but gets God to grant her a bunch of wishes so that she'll be as comfortable in her new world as possible.

And so begins Tsukina's life as the owner of a little book cafe in the middle of nowhere, whose first (and mostly only) customer, Il (the author's awkward shortening of his full name, Soeil), a bookish knight.

REVIEW: Others See Us (book) by William Sleator

Other See Us is YA SFF. Technically, I'd argue that it's YA SFF horror. I checked it out from the library. 

This review includes slight spoilers.


The thing that most excites Jared about his summer vacation is that he'll finally get the chance to see his beautiful cousin Annelise again. However, not long before the big family cookout, Jared accidentally crashes his bike and falls into a swamp filled with toxic muck. He manages to get it all washed off, but suddenly he finds himself hearing weird voices, almost like he can hear others' thoughts. There's far more tension in his family than he ever realized, and he has no idea what to think about it all.

But soon he has other problems keeping him occupied. His secret journal has gone missing, which means that someone now knows all about his huge crush on Annelise. Whoever took it knew the security code to his family's cottage, and since the thief wasn't either of his parents, it seems likely that there's another mind reader in his family, someone else who was exposed to the toxic swamp water.

REVIEW: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (book) by Tom Angleberger

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is Middle Grade humorous realistic fiction. I checked it out from the library.


Dwight is generally agreed to be the biggest weirdo in his school's sixth grade. He says and does random weird stuff and is generally embarrassing for folks like Tommy, who sits with him at lunch, to be around. However, he recently made his own Origami Yoda (based on a design he invented himself), and although it's weird that he keeps telling people to ask Origami Yoda for advice, the advice is often surprisingly helpful.

Tommy has assembled these case files in an effort to figure out the answer to the question: Is Origami Yoda real, or isn't he? Each entry is an example of a time Origami Yoda gave someone advice and how it turned out, with commentary from Harvey (who doesn't believe Origami Yoda is real) and Tommy, along with doodles created by Tommy's friend Kellen.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

REVIEW: Chasing Lincoln's Killer (nonfiction audiobook) by James L. Swanson, read by Will Patton

Chasing Lincoln's Killer is YA nonfiction. I checked it out through OverDrive.


Chasing Lincoln's Killer follows John Wilkes Booth from his decision to assassinate Lincoln (with some mentions of an earlier attempt to kidnap him), to his attempts to evade authorities afterward and eventual death. Contrary to what the title implies, more of the book's time is spent on the assassination (and his accomplices' efforts) than on the pursuit, probably because blood, gore, and death were deemed more interesting than a couple guys becoming increasingly rank as they attempted to escape to Virginia.

REVIEW: Thanks for the Feedback: the Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (nonfiction audiobook) by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, read by the authors

Thanks for the Feedback is nonfiction. I checked it out on OverDrive.


I listened to this audiobook while working on other things, so I unfortunately can't give a very good overview of how it's structured. If I remember right, the authors started by laying out their definition of "feedback," which is broader than you might expect. Telling someone the ways in which they could improve the presentation they just practiced counts as feedback. So does telling them that they did great and are going to do just fine during the real thing (encouragement rather than advice). And that person who honked at you during your morning commute because you were zoned out and didn't notice the light had changed to green was also giving you feedback.

REVIEW: The Scum Villain's Self-Saving System: Ren Zha Fanpai Zijiu Xitong, Vol. 1 (book) by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, illustrated by Xiao Tong Kong (Velinxi), translated by Faelicy and Lily

The Scum Villain's Self-Saving System is, at least in this first volume, a fantasy comedy that was originally serialized online, in Chinese. As the series progresses, it gains more serious elements and m/m romance. According to the little genre guide in the back of this volume, it would be considered part of both the danmei (Chinese BL) and xianxia genres. It's licensed by Seven Seas - I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes a few spoilers, mostly because I couldn't help indulging my urge to write about the series as a whole and not just this one volume.


Proud Immortal Demon Way is an incredibly long online serial, a "stallion" novel about Luo Binghe (referred to as LBH from here on out), a humble young cultivation disciple who is mistreated by Shen Qingqui (SQQ), the Lord of Qing Jing Peak, until he eventually awakens to his demonic powers, gathers up a massive harem, and kills everyone who formerly mistreated him. Shen Yuan has just spent 20 days plowing through Proud Immortal Demon Way when he suddenly dies and wakes up in the body of SQQ.

Shen Yuan had lots of complaints about Proud Immortal Demon Way and was known for being a massive anti-fan. As SQQ, he is told by System, a voice only he can hear, that he's being given the opportunity to "transform a stupid work into a magnificent, high-quality, first-rate classic" (14). It's a chance to finally address the original work's inconsistencies, plot holes, and various details that are brought up only to never be mentioned again. Unfortunately, the original SQQ was a scum villain who betrayed his sect and eventually had his arms and legs chopped off by LBH, the protagonist with invincible plot armor. If SQQ dies the same way now, Shen Yuan is dead as well. His first instinct is to suck up to LBH as hard as he can, but OOC (out of character) behavior is forbidden until he can fulfill some initial requirements. 

SQQ somehow has to survive long enough to unlock additional abilities, earn various types types of points (B-points, awarded for being a badass, are the most prominent, but System adds other at will) so that he can afford to break rules or screw up here and there, and somehow still accomplish whichever story events System decides are vital to the book's existence while transforming Proud Immortal Demon Way into a "better" story.

REVIEW: Where the Crawdads Sing (book) by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing is a "coming of age" story with mystery elements. I bought my copy used.


In 1952, when Kya is only six years old, she watches her mother walk away from their home and never come back. Over the next few years, her siblings all do the same, unwilling to deal with their abusive drunk of a father anymore, until finally only Kya is left. She figures out a way to live with her father and learn from him, but eventually even he disappears. The most reliable thing in her life becomes the North Carolina marsh in which she lives.

The story alternates between showing Kya's survival, growth, and desperate loneliness over the years, and the discovery, in 1969, of the body of Chase Andrews and the ensuing police investigation.

REVIEW: The Mysterious Matter of I.M. Fine (book) by Diane Stanley

The Mysterious Matter of I.M. Fine is a Middle Grade mystery/fantasy. I checked my copy out from the library.


Franny's family moves a lot, so she's constantly the new kid at school. Her sister has a gift for zeroing in on the latest fads at their new schools and using those to seamlessly fit in, but Franny just has her love of reading.

Franny's newest school doesn't initially seem to be any different from her previous ones, but then she starts to notice odd things happening to a lot of the students. For instance, all of a sudden everyone is into jelly worms. A while after that, kids start spontaneously acting like snakes. Then there's an epidemic of intense headaches. It's bizarre and difficult to believe, but the only connection Franny can find between these incidents is that they're always similar to something in the newest Chillers book releases by I.M. Fine. With the help of her new friend, Beamer, she attempts to figure out what's going on and put a stop to it before someone gets seriously hurt.

Friday, January 21, 2022

REVIEW: My Happy Marriage, Vol. 1 (book) by Akumi Agitogi, translated by Kiki Piatkowska

My Happy Marriage is fantasy romance with a historical-ish setting. I bought my copy brand new.


In this fantasy reimagining of the Meiji/Taisho era, there are beings known as Grotesqueries that can only be seen and fought by those with Spirit-Sight, known as the Gifted. Miyo Saimori was born to a Gifted mother and father, which should have guaranteed her a comfortable noblewoman's life. However, she never demonstrated any ability to use Spirit-Sight, nor any other Gift. After her mother died, Miyo's father neglected her and married the woman he'd preferred over Miyo's mother. Her daughter turned out to be Gifted, so it wasn't long before Miyo became less than a servant in her own home.

Miyo's only ray of hope was that she might one day marry Kouji, her childhood friend, but even that wasn't to be. When her father tells her that Kouji will marry her stepsister, Kaya, while she will be betrothed to Kiyoka Kudou and sent to his household immediately, it's all Miyo can do not to cry. The Kudou family is powerful, but Kiyoka is known for being so cold and terrible that he has thus far scared all his potential brides away within days of their arriving at his household. Unlike them, Miyo will have no home to return to if she leaves.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

REVIEW: The White Cat's Revenge as Plotted from the Dragon King's Lap, Vol. 1 (book) by Kureha, illustrated by Yamigo, translated by David Evelyn

The White Cat's Revenge as Plotted from the Dragon King's Lap is an isekai fantasy series that will almost certainly have stronger romance elements later on. It's licensed by J-Novel Club. I bought my copy brand new.


Nineteen-year-old Ruri has spent her entire life desperately trying to get away from her "friend" Asahi, but no matter what she does or where she goes, Asahi's always there. Something about that girl draws people in, and then Ruri has to deal with their jealousy as Asahi cheerfully misinterprets their bullying as "playfulness."

Then one day Asahi, Ruri, and a couple (?) of Asahi's fans find themselves suddenly transported to the kingdom of Nadasha, where they are told that one of them is the savior known as the Priestess Princess. For various reasons, Asahi is instantly declared the Priestess Princess, and her jealous supporters conspire against Ruri and get her exiled. Fortunately, Ruri finds a safe haven and learns that she's something called a "Beloved," a person whose powerful mana appeals to spirits and makes them want to help her.

Ruri's primary goals are to somehow go back home and stay far away from Asahi so that she can, for the first time ever, have real friends and a peaceful life.