Tuesday, February 21, 2023

REVIEW: Chainsaw Man (manga, vol. 3) by Tatsuki Fujimoto, translated by Amanda Haley

Chainsaw Man is a blend of action, horror, and comedy. I bought this volume new.


Denji and the others have been trapped on the eighth floor of a hotel. They're going to starve to death if they can't figure out how to escape, but the only option available seems to be making a contract with the Eternity Devil that trapped them, which has said it will let the rest of them go if they let it eat Denji.

After the Eternity Devil portion of the story, the group winds down with some drinking (which Himeno also hopes will convince newbies Arai and Kobeni not to quit - their experience with the Eternity Devil was pretty traumatic). The volume ends with everything going all to hell.

REVIEW: The Recruit (live action movie)

The Recruit is a 2003 spy thriller. I checked my copy out from the library.


James Clayton is a young programmer who's spent years trying to figure out what happened to his father. He's working at a bar one night when a man who indicates he works for the CIA approaches him and hints that he has information about James' father. The man, Walter Burke, is there to recruit James to the CIA. 

After initially declining the offer, James reconsiders it due to the possibility that he might learn more about what happened to his father. Then it's off to The Farm to undergo training as a potential CIA operative, where he soon learns that no one, not even his fellow classmates, can truly be trusted. That's just the start, however - James is eventually faced with a world filled with so much deception he can't be sure of anything.

REVIEW: Dr. Stone (manga, vol. 2) story by Riichiro Inagaki, art by Boichi, translated by Caleb Cook

Dr. Stone is a post-apocalyptic series. I checked my copy out from the library.


Senku manages to make gun powder and, in the process, finds evidence that there may be other humans besides himself, Tsukasa, Taiju, and Yuzuriha around. Unfortunately, Tsukasa tracks Senku and the others down before there's any time to investigate, and Senku is faced with several impossible choices. This volume also features an extended flashback to Senku's childhood, as well as the period of time when Senku was first revived and had to do things on his own.

Monday, February 20, 2023

REVIEW: You'll Be the Death of Me (book) by Karen M. McManus

You'll Be the Death of Me is a YA mystery/thriller. I bought my copy new.

This review includes spoilers.


Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close friends due to the Greatest Day Ever, a time when they all skipped school together and had an amazing day. They've since drifted apart, and they're now all in high school and mostly hang out with different people. But the Greatest Day Ever still ties them together, so when Ivy is faced with coming to school after a humiliating senior-year class president election loss to Brian "Boney" Mahoney, she easily agrees when Cal suggests that the three of them skip school together like old times.

Unfortunately, the Greatest Day Ever isn't exactly something that can easily be replicated. Things go from vaguely disappointing to horrible when the three of them spot Boney (who should be at school, delivering his acceptance speech), follow him into an abandoned building, and then discover his body. For various reasons, none of them want to be around when the police arrive, but the end result is that Ivy becomes the prime suspect in Boney's murder. Finding out what really happened will involve digging into all of their secrets and getting to know the people they've become since they drifted apart.

REVIEW: Chainsaw Man (manga, vol. 2) story & art by Tatsuki Fujimoto, translated by Amanda Haley

Chainsaw Man is a blend of horror, action, and comedy. I bought my copy of this volume new.


Denji battles the Bat Devil in order to save Meowy and Power and get his chance to touch Power's boobs. Then it's time for Denji vs. the Leech Devil (the Bat Devil was her boyfriend). 

In this volume we learn about the Gun Devil, a devil so powerful it killed over a million people in 5 minutes. Since those horrible minutes of destruction, the Gun Devil has disappeared. Aki's team is assigned to finding and collecting pieces of the Gun Devil, which other devils eat in order to grant themselves more power. Those pieces should ultimately help them find the Gun Devil itself.

REVIEW: What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (nonfiction book) by Randall Munroe

What If? 2 is a blend of science/math and humor. I bought my copy new.


If you liked the first What If? volume, you'll probably enjoy this one. Randall Munroe once again tackles a variety of questions in as scientific a way as possible. This occasionally (often?) means he has to make some assumptions so that the questions are answerable, and his assumptions might not always gel with what the person who asked the question intended. But hey, it's entertaining.

Some of the questions were more math problems than "what if?" scientific thought experiments - for example, the one about how many pages a person would have to read in order to read all of the laws that apply to them, or the one asking at what point in history there were too many English-language books to read in one lifetime. My favorite questions were the true "what ifs," the ones that involved fundamental changes to the world, the universe, or time itself. The more horrifically destructive the results, the better. (Bring on the candy rain and neverending dogs!)

I started reading this while I was sick, assuming that the explanations would help me drift off to sleep. Instead, I found this book to be entertaining in a way that was absolutely perfect for my exhausted and congested self. Many of the chapters told little stories about worlds or universes in which something had gone horribly awry, which was great fun to read about. At the same time, Munroe wasn't asking me to keep track of characters or plots, everything came with amusing pictures, and each chapter was relatively short. I could easily read a chapter or two and then decide it was time to nap for a few hours. True, I couldn't always follow the science, but I can't guarantee that I'd have been able to follow it even if I'd been healthy.

If I remember right, I listened to the audio version of the first What If? book. I recall enjoying it, but, what with the illustrations, it'd probably have been better to read it than listen to it. My enjoyment of this volume is making me consider going back and reading a paper copy of the first book.

REVIEW: Secrets of the Greek Revival (book) by Eva Pohler

Secrets of the Greek Revival is a cozy mystery. I bought my copy of this brand new.

This review contains spoilers.


Content warnings for parental death and mentions of sexual abuse.

This stars three friends who I suppose you could say are going through a bit of a mid-life crisis. All of them have something going on at home that's dragging down their mood. Ellen feels like she and her husband are gradually growing more and more distant from each other, and she isn't sure what to do about it. Tanya's mother has dementia and can't remember who she is most days. Meanwhile, Sue lets her own mother badger her.

To get their minds off things, they're debating buying and renovating an old Greek Revival house near one of San Antonio's historic districts. The house may be haunted, which the three friends have varied feelings about. Ellen doesn't believe in ghosts, but after some research she learns that this house does have a lot of history - it used to house several female psychiatric patients. The more Ellen learns about how they were treated, the more determined she is to get the house and turn it into something that can shine a light on their lives. While Ellen, Tanya, and Sue try to renovate the house and uncover its mysteries, they must simultaneously deal with someone or something who wants them off the property. 

REVIEW: The Evil Secret Society of Cats (manga, vol. 1) story & art by Pandania, translated by Alethea and Athena Nibley

The Evil Secret Society of Cats is a collection of humorous 4-panel comics. I bought my copy of this volume new.


The Evil Secret Society of Cats is all around us. Their goal is to teach humans to fear the feline race...by taking over our lives with their cuteness. If you've ever been late to leave the house because of a cat who was too cute not to pet, you've experienced the Society's nefarious activities. (Or you're a human member of the Society, because that's an option too.) Some recurring characters are: Feline Commander (the leader of the secret society), Dr. Meow (the cat who develops all of the society's technologies), Queen (a high-level cat operative), the Destroyer (a secretly sweet former stray cat), Robocat (a robot created by Dr. Meow), and the hero Doggoman and Doggoman's little sister. There's also a hedgehog cafe owner who pops up occasionally, and who reminded me of the Cat's Cafe comic.

REVIEW: The Maid (book) by Nita Prose

The Maid is a mystery novel. I bought my copy new.


It's never stated in the book, but Molly Gray is probably autistic and certainly neurodivergent. She has trouble with social cues and frequently misunderstands people when their words or facial expressions don't match up with what they actually mean. She follows rules well and absolutely loves her job as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. She gets satisfaction out of returning rooms to a "state of perfection."

Molly's grandmother used to explain the things she didn't understand, but after Gran dies, Molly has no one. Yes, Mr. Preston at the hotel is always very kind, as are the hotel manager, Mr. Snow, and several of Molly's fellow maids, but it isn't the same. It doesn't help that Molly is now constantly near financial ruin - she can barely afford to pay the rent on the apartment she and Gran used to share.

The Blacks are frequent guests at the Regency Grand, and Molly has returned to their room to finish cleaning up when she discovers Mr. Black dead in his bed, with the crushed remnants of his newest wife's pills on the floor beside him. Molly reports the body. Unfortunately, her odd behavior, some misplaced trust, and an unfortunate promise results in Molly becoming the prime suspect in Mr. Black's murder.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

REVIEW: Love is an Illusion! (manhwa, vol. 1) story and art by Fargo, translated by Lezhin Entertainment, America Localization Team

Love is an Illusion! is a BL omegaverse comic. I bought my volume brand new.


This is an omegaverse series - a quick explanation, if you aren't familiar with that. Everyone in this world is an Alpha, Omega, or Beta. Betas are regular humans. Alphas produce pheromones that attract Omegas, Omegas produce pheromones that attract Alphas, and Omegas go through heat cycles that make them want to have sex with Alphas (in the world of this series, medication exists that can suppress these heat cycles). Alphas of either sex can get Omegas of either sex pregnant.

Hye-sung has spent his entire life thinking he was a recessive Alpha, but, while working as a waiter at a party, he meets Dojin, a dominant Alpha, enters his first heat cycle, and discovers that he's actually an Omega. Specifically, he's a recessive Omega, so he'll likely have difficulty finding medication that can suppress his heat cycle and it'll be harder for him to get pregnant.

Dojin is a singer in a popular band and comes from a wealthy family composed almost entirely of Alphas. Due to his family constantly pressuring him to pair up with an Omega, he hates Omegas and only has sex with Betas or other Alphas. Until he meets Hye-sung. For some reason, having sex with Hye-sung inspires him to write incredible songs. Too bad Hye-sung resents Dojin for making him realize he's an Omega.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

REVIEW: Verity (book) by Colleen Hoover

Verity is a thriller with a gothic edge. I bought my copy new.


Lowen is a struggling writer who recently spent a period of time as her mother's caretaker, up until her mother's death. Now she's headed to a mysterious meeting that could be a turning point for her career. The author Verity Crawford has been in a car accident, is now in a vegetative state, and can no longer complete her bestselling series. Lowen has been chosen as the author best suited to go over Verity's notes and "co-author" the final books for her. Verity's husband, in particular, wants Lowen on board, and so she accepts, even though she isn't sure she can produce work nearly as good as Verity's. It's not like she has much of a choice, anyway - she desperately needs the money.

The Crawford family has been visited by quite a bit of tragedy: first the deaths of Verity and Jeremy's twin daughters, and then Verity's accident. Lowen goes to Verity's isolated home, intending to spend just a few days going over her papers. Soon, however, she finds herself glued to what appears to be Verity's unpublished autobiography. Verity's books were always written from the perspective of the villain, which Lowen didn't necessarily think indicated anything about Verity' nature, but Verity's autobiography has her wondering otherwise. It reveals her to be a cold and ruthless liar who'd do anything to keep Jeremy, her husband, to herself. 

What sort of person was Verity? It's a question Lowen can't stop thinking about, even as she finds herself falling for Jeremy. Did he know what his wife was really like? Should she tell him?

REVIEW: Come Out, Come Out, Whatever You Are (book) by Kathryn Foxfield

Come Out, Come Out, Whatever You Are is a YA mystery/thriller disguised as a horror story. I bought my copy new.


Lex is one of five teens who have signed up to be part of the newest (and possibly last) season of the reality TV show It's Behind You. The show's contestants must spend the night in a supposedly haunted location. Whoever is able to stay there the whole night wins 10 grand - and if multiple people manage to stick around, they have to split the 10 grand, so it's in contestants' best interests if there are fewer winners.

This season is taking place in the Umber Gorge Caves, the home of the Puckered Maiden, a ghost who takes the hearts of her victims. It's debatable whether she actually exists, but people have definitely died in these caves. The most recent death was only two years ago, a local teen killed during a cave-in.

Lex doesn't believe in ghosts and figures she'll get the 10 grand, easy. However, her fellow contestants - Python the YouTuber, Marla the wannabe actress, Abbie the ghost hunter, and Liam, the local boy who for some reason is pretending he isn't local - all have something they're hiding, and one of them may be willing to kill to keep others from finding out their secrets.