Sunday, September 25, 2022

REVIEW: The Other World's Books Depend on the Bean Counter (manga, vol. 1) by Kazuki Irodori, original story by Yatsuki Wakatsu, character design by Kikka Ohashi, translated by Emma Shumacker

The Other World's Books Depend on the Bean Counter is a fantasy manga series based on a light novel series. It's basically m/m isekai. I bought my copy of this first volume brand new.


Kondou Seiichirou is an overworked accountant who's heading home one evening when he hears a girl crying out for help. He rushes to her, only to get pulled along with her into a new world where she's expected and wanted and he' unexpected extra. The girl, Shiraishi Yua, is named the next Holy Maiden, a girl destined to save the kingdom from a deadly miasma. Kondou is asked what he'd like to do, and he requests an accounting job.

It doesn't take long for Kondou to start digging in places he isn't wanted, attracting some powerful enemies. He notices something fishy going on in the kingdom's accounting books and makes it his personal mission to clean things up and ensure that the country is financially stable enough to weather the hardships he's sure the miasma will soon cause. In the process, he overworks himself to the same degree he was overworked back in his own world, and tries to make up for it with "nutritional tonics." Thankfully, at least one of the people keeping a close eye on him is willing to help him out when he suddenly ends up in trouble.

REVIEW: Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror (CGI animated movie)

Oblivion Island is a CGI-animated Japanese fantasy movie for children. I bought my copy used.


Haruka's mother died when she was little. Her most precious keepsake is a mirror her mother gave her. She swore she'd always take good care of it, but as she grew older she eventually realized she'd lost track of it. She goes looking for it and spots a fox-like creature she recognizes as a being her mother once told her about - they take once-beloved items from neglectful owners. She follows the being, named Teo, and makes him promise to help her find her mirror. However, the mirror has been claimed by the most powerful being on Oblivion Island, so it won't be easy for Haruka and Teo to get it back.

REVIEW: A Taste of Gold and Iron (book) by Alexandra Rowland

A Taste of Gold and Iron is essentially a m/m fantasy romance, although the marketing probably made it look more like fantasy with romantic aspects. I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes slight spoilers.


This takes place in the Ottoman Empire-inspired fantasy country of Araşt. It's a matriarchal society ruled by the House Mahisti. The current sultan is Zeliha, Kadou's sister, who has just had a baby, a little girl named Eyne. Kadou loves his sister and niece deeply. He's also reassured that their existence means it's slightly less likely that he might ever have to take the throne himself. Kadou is prone to anxiety and panic attacks (concepts that don't exist in this world, so he views it all as "cowardice"), and the thing that terrifies him the most is the degree to which other people's lives depend upon his behavior. He knows that would only grow worse if he gained more power.

Unfortunately, Siranos, Eyne's body-father, can't comprehend someone in Kadou's position having so little ambition, so he's constantly suspicious that Kadou might try to overthrow Zeliha. Luckily, Zeliha knows her brother well and brushes off Siranos' concerns. However, things go very badly during a hunt and a couple of Kadou's kahyalar (basically bodyguards, but potentially with more political power?) end up dead or injured. Kadou blames himself - his anxiety about Siranos put them on edge, and as a result they misread the situation and treated Siranos as an enemy when they should not have. 

Zeliha spares the life of Tadek, Kadou's favorite kahyalar and occasional lover, but demotes him. She also temporarily bans Kadou from court, telling him to look into incidents involving counterfeit money in order to occupy his time and eventually give her an excuse to publicly forgive him. She also assigns him a new bodyguard, Evemer, who seems to dislike Kadou on sight.

REVIEW: What We Do In the Shadows (live action movie)

What We Do In the Shadows is a horror comedy mockumentary movie. It was the start of the overall What We Do In the Shadows franchise.


This mockumentary focuses on a group of vampire housemates: Viago von Dorna Schmarten Scheden Heimburg, who moved to New Zealand in pursuit of a human woman he fell in love with, who ended up marrying someone else; Vladislav the Poker, a formerly powerful tyrant who fell out of favor when he battled "The Beast" and lost; Deacon Brucke, who sees himself as a "young rebel"; and Petyr, an 8,000-year-old Nosferatu-like vampire who generally keeps to himself.

The mockumentary also follows several other characters: Jackie, Deacon's human familiar who cleans up after the group and finds human victims for them; Nick, a human victim who Petyr turns into a vampire; and Stu, Nick's human best friend who becomes a favorite of the group of vampires and introduces them to modern technology. There was also a local pack of werewolves that the vampires occasionally encountered.

REVIEW: Speed (live action movie)

Speed is a 1994 action thriller movie. I bought my copy new.


Jack Traven and Harry Temple are LAPD SWAT officers who start this movie off by outsmarting a mysterious bomber and saving an elevator full of people. The incident leaves Harry with a wounded leg, and everyone thinks that the bomber died. However, a short while later, Jack witnesses a mass transit bus explode and receives a call from the same bomber who targeted the elevator. The bomber tells him that a similar bomb has been rigged on another bus. Once the bus reaches 50 mph, the bomb will be armed and will go off when the bus slows down to under 50 mph. None of the passengers can leave, or the bomber will immediately blow the bus up.

Jack manages to get onto the bus and does his best to follow the bomber's instructions while trying to figure out the bomber's identity and somehow rescue the passengers.

REVIEW: Channel Zero, Season 1: Candle Cove (live action TV series)

Channel Zero is a horror anthology series that aired on Syfy. I bought my copy of this first season used.


Mike Painter is a child psychologist who hasn't been back to his hometown in years, not since his twin brother became one of the victims of a serial killer targeting children. Most of the victims were discovered in a forest, missing their teeth. Mike's brother Eddie was the only child never found.

After some kind of psychotic break forces Mike to take some time away from his wife and young daughter, he decides to go back to his hometown and face the memories he tried to leave behind. His relationship with his mother is awkward, and tensions rise between him and a few other local residents when his arrival seemingly prompts the killer from 1988 to reappear. People think Mike and/or his family may have something to do with the killings, but Mike insists that the true thing linking them all together is a children's TV show called Candle Cove. It only aired during the killings in 1988, and for some reason local children are starting to see it on TV again.

Friday, September 23, 2022

REVIEW: Scream (live action movie)

Scream is a 1996 horror slasher movie. I bought my copy brand new.


Sidney Prescott is well-known in her small town for being the daughter of a woman who was raped and brutally murdered a year prior. It was Sidney's testimony that put Cotton Weary behind bars, but there are some, like reporter Gale Weathers, who argue that Sidney was mistaken. Gale believes that Weary was Sidney's mother's lover but not her murderer.

Now that a new murderer is on the prowl, Sidney can't help but be reminded about the past. A local teen and her boyfriend are both murdered, and the girl's whole school is abuzz with theories about who did it. All anyone knows is that the murderer was dressed in black and wearing a white Scream mask. When Sidney herself gets a call from the murderer, she begins to doubt all her relationships? Could someone she knows actually be the killer?

Sunday, September 11, 2022

REVIEW: Chainsaw Man (manga, vol. 1) by Tatsuki Fujimoto

Chainsaw Man is a combination of action, dark comedy, and fantasy. I bought this first volume brand new.


When Denji was a kid, his father committed suicide, leaving behind an enormous debt, which yakuza then expected Denji to pay back. On his own, Denji probably would have died. However, he happened upon a wounded devil that looked like a little dog with a chainsaw sprouting out of its face. He offered it his blood in exchange for a contract, and that's how Denji's friendship with Pochita began. 

Even with Pochita's help, however, Denji occasionally had to resort to selling his own body parts in order to make the payments yakuza demanded from him. And eventually even that wasn't enough - the yakuza attempted to make their own contract with a devil and became zombies as a result, reducing both Denji and Pochita to pieces tossed into a dumpster. With the last of his strength, Pochita made another contract with Denji, becoming his heart in exchange for getting to hear more of Denji's dreams.

The first person to encounter the newly changed Denji is Makima, a public safety devil hunter. She agrees to add him to a public safety devil hunting squad, but only if he never quits. If he does, she'll kill him. Denji is just happy that someone is finally being slightly nice to him. It helps that that someone is a pretty woman.

REVIEW: A Life Turned Upside Down: My Dad's an Alcoholic (nonfiction manga) story and art by Mariko Kikuchi

Content warnings for alcoholism, abusive relationships, suicide.

A Life Turned Upside Down: My Dad's an Alcoholic is Mariko Kikuchi's manga memoir of growing up with an alcoholic father and eventually watching him die of cancer. Her mom was in a cult and basically just enabled her husband's alcoholism until she eventually committed suicide. 

For a short while after her mother's death, her father seemed to improve - he came home sober more often. When Mariko occasionally got frustrated with him, she repressed her feelings, telling herself that she could put up with anything as long as he stayed sober. However, even that didn't last. As she entered high school, Mariko realized that her friends thought her dad was funny, so she tried coping by turning him into a joke. It was something she continued to make use of when she made her debut as a manga artist.

Review: A Reliable Wife (book) by Robert Goolrick

A Reliable Wife is a historical mystery/suspense. I checked it out from the library.


Ralph Truitt places an ad for a "reliable wife" in a Chicago paper, hoping to finally have someone around who could ease his loneliness. He expects Catherine Land to be a plain woman. Instead, she turns out to be beautiful, and very much not the person in the picture she sent. He knows she's hiding something, but he doesn't feel like he can send her away when it's so cold out (his home is in an isolated area in Wisconsin). When he injures himself and she helps care for him, he decides that he'll allow her to stay and be his wife, even if she wasn't the woman he expected and likely has ulterior motives.

Catherine does, in fact, have ulterior motives. She has brought a bottle of arsenic with her and, after her marriage to Ralph, intends to slowly kill him and inherit everything he has. Except she starts to actually like Ralph, and suddenly it becomes difficult to hold onto her original plan. All she has to do is ask for something and he gives it to her - is it really necessary to kill him?

Ralph has his own plans. He wants Catherine to help him convince his now-adult son to come back home. However, that won't be easy to manage, nor will it necessarily be the best thing for Ralph and his dreams of a family.

REVIEW: My Happy Marriage (manga, vol. 1) original concept by Akumi Agitogi, art by Rito Kohsaka, character design by Tsukiho Tsukioka

My Happy Marriage is a historical fantasy romance manga based on a light novel series. I bought my copy of the first volume brand new.


Miyo Saimori should have been raised as the beloved eldest daughter of the noble Saimori family. Instead, since she wasn't born with her mother's Gift, her father neglected her after her mother's death and allowed his new wife to treat her as though she were less than a servant. When Kaya, his daughter by his new wife, turned out to be Gifted, it sealed Miyo's fate. The best she could hope for was the possibility that her father might allow her to marry Koji, her childhood friend.

Unfortunately, he instead arranges for Kaya to marry Koji. Miyo is sent to Kiyoka Kudo to be his bride. The Kudo family is wealthy and powerful, so normally this would be good news, except Kiyoka is known for being so cold and harsh towards his prospective brides that they've all left within three days of arriving at his home. However, Miyo has nowhere else to go. Whatever Kiyoka says or does, she'll have to bear it. Luckily for her, he's not as horrible as the stories about him and made him seem.

REVIEW: The Kaiju Preservation Society (book) by John Scalzi

The Kaiju Preservation Society is humorous sci-fi. I bought my copy brand new.


Jamie Gray is confident that he's going to ace his six-month performance evaluation for füdmüd, a food delivery app. Too bad his CEO's a massive jerk and he never stood a chance. Six months later, he's one of the company's delivery drivers, scraping by with no benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. When he's offered a job by an old acquaintance, Tom, he jumps at it, even though all Tom can tell him is that it's an "animal rights organization," very hush-hush, and he'll be expected to lift things.

Sometime later, Jamie learns that his new employer is the Kaiju Preservation Society. Their job involves traveling to another Earth via a portal and studying and generally keeping an eye on the giant monsters (kaiju) that call that world home. Certain circumstances can cause the barrier between their world and ours to thin, so the KPS both protects our world from the kaiju and the kaiju from us.

Some very unusual circumstances result in a pregnant kaiju nesting on one of those thin spots. For various reasons, this wouldn't normally be a problem, except someone on our side of the barrier has plans for her.

REVIEW: Happy Death Day (live action movie)

Happy Death Day is a horror comedy. I bought my copy brand new.


It's Groundhog Day, but with murder! Tree is a self-centered, horrible, drunken disaster of a sorority girl who wakes up on the morning of her birthday in some random guy's dorm room. She does her walk of shame back to her sorority house, trades barbs with her roommate, goes to a sorority meeting, and heads out to a party in the evening. She's then killed by someone in a creepy baby mask (the school mascot is the Baby).

She immediately wakes up in the random guy's dorm again. Was it a bad dream or has her day somehow reset herself? The first option seems more likely, but as the day goes on and Tree keeps seeing eerily familiar moments, she wonders if it wouldn't be a better idea to change her evening up a bit, just to be safe. Except the killer in the Baby mask somehow manages to find her again.

So begins Tree's quest to identify her killer and somehow survive to see the day after her birthday. 

REVIEW: The Cabin in the Woods (live action movie)

The Cabin in the Woods is a horror comedy. I bought my copy brand new.


A group of five college friends decide to spend the weekend at a remote cabin in the woods owned by a cousin of one of the group members. What they don't realize is that it's all a set-up: their every move is being watched by a group that's locked them into a cliched horror movie-like experience that's designed to kill them. The only question is how they'll all die.

REVIEW: Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (live action movie)

The Birds is a 1963 thriller/horror movie based on a story by Daphne du Maurier. I bought my copy brand new.


Melanie Daniels meets Mitch Brenner while at a pet shop in San Francisco. She's there to buy a Mynah bird, while he's there to get a pair of lovebirds for his younger sister. He pretends to mistake Melanie for a shop employee and eventually leaves without buying anything. Melanie, both intrigued and annoyed by handsome Mitch, buys a couple lovebirds and ends up taking them to his mother's home in Bodega Bay, where he goes every weekend.

Out of nowhere, Melanie is attacked by a seagull, which she and Mitch assume is an isolated incident. However, as incidents of odd bird behavior mount, it all becomes more ominous, until finally someone is discovered dead, apparently killed by birds. With no idea what's causing the attacks or how to stop them, Mitch, his mother, his sister, and Melanie try their best to survive and wait whatever it is out.

Friday, September 2, 2022

REVIEW: They'll Never Catch Us (book) by Jessica Goodman

They'll Never Catch Us is technically marketed as a YA thriller, but it might be more accurate to call it a YA family drama/mystery.


Stella and Ellie Steckler were incredibly close when they were little. They had to be: their parents had their own concerns (their mom was an alcoholic and their dad suffered from depression), so there were times when it felt like they could only rely on each other. Stella, the older sister, remembers the bad times a little more clearly than Ellie, and as they get older and their parents aim for a more normal and stable life, it's Stella who reacts by turning inside herself and becoming harder and more focused while Ellie is more social. They both get into cross country running, although Stella's better and has a good chance at getting a college scholarship.

Until she doesn't. An incident involving another cross country runner results in Stella losing her chance at the scholarship and gaining a reputation for being violent and angry. Ellie and Stella begin to grow apart. Stella starts to view Ellie as competition, while Ellie's still struggling to get out of Stella's shadow.

Mila Keene, a new girl at their school, is a cross country star who's a threat to both of their scholarship chances. Despite that, they both find themselves opening up to her in unexpected ways...and then suddenly Mila disappears, and people start talking. Did she just run away? Or did an angry and violent Stella kill her to remove some of the competition? Or is this a sign that the person who killed several female cross country runners ten years ago and was never caught is now back and killing again?