Sunday, March 31, 2024

REVIEW: Carrie (book) by Stephen King

Carrie is horror. I checked my copy out from the library.


Sixteen-year-old Carrie White gets her first period while in the girls' showers at her high school. Her classmates, particularly Christine Hargensen, are cruel about it, making fun of her and pelting her with tampons. Carrie, whose ultra-religious mother never told her about menstruation, thinks she's dying. The whole thing is understandably traumatic for her, and unfortunately it only gets worse. 

King alternates between sections from various characters' viewpoints as the events are occurring and sections from works discussing the "Carrie White" incident after the fact. Readers are aware, well in advance, that Carrie has telekinetic powers that are awakened and significantly boosted after her first period, that things will go badly for her, and that she'll end up killing a lot of people.

REVIEW: Manga for Success: The Psychology of Personal Growth & Better Relationships (nonfiction book) by Toshinori Iwai, scenarios by Hirofumi Hoshi, illustrated by Aki Fukamori

Manga for Success: The Psychology of Personal Growth & Better Relationships is nonfiction combined with fictional manga sections that illustrate the concepts discussed in more depth in the text. I bought my copy new.


Each book in the "Manga for Success" series alternates between textbookish sections and fictional "scenario" section in manga format. In this volume, Yukari is the area manager of a popular bakery chain. She's constantly frustrated by issues at her stores, and her efforts to deal with them just result in her employees becoming equally as frustrated with and angry at her. While cleaning up a warehouse, she discovers a photograph of psychologist Alfred Adler and his wife. Suddenly, the ghost of Alfred Adler appears. In order to thank Yukari for finding the picture, he decides to teach her about Adlerian psychology so that she can gain a forward-thinking perspective, change her life, and improve her relationships with others.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

REVIEW: Batman: Wayne Family Adventures, Vol. 1 (graphic novel) written by CRC Payne, inks by Starbite

Batman: Wayne Family Adventures is a slice-of-life story about Bruce Wayne and his found family (Alfred, the various former Robins, etc.). I bought my copy of this volume new.


It's the daily life of Bruce Wayne and his various "children" (Duke Thomas, Damian Wayne, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain, and others I'm forgetting).

My slice-of-life loving heart absolutely adored this. It was fluffy, sweet, and funny. I'm sure there are those who hate that an entire series is devoted to showing the softer side of Gotham's various vigilantes, but I personally loved it and wanted more.

Bruce was the "workaholic but wants to be better" dad. I haven't kept up with DC comics well enough to know most of the other characters, but we got a decent amount of context and information for everyone that I didn't feel lost. 

So good. I wasn't expecting to love this as much as I did.


Character designs by Maria Li, some "process" art, and a multi-page guide telling readers what to try next depending on their favorite Wayne family member and the kind of story they're in the mood for. There's also a brief excerpt from Vixen: NYC Volume 1.

REVIEW: The Impossible Princess (book) by Keira Dominguez

The Impossible Princess is a royal romance set in the fictional country of Sondmark. It's the first in a series. I bought my copy new.


Princess Clara is the youngest of the Queen of Sondmark's children, and she's desperate to get her mother to trust her with real work, something more worthwhile than the minor events with pre-written speeches that are all she's currently allowed to do. Unfortunately, while she was away at college in the United States, she assumed she had a little more freedom to behave as she wished and ended up with the nickname "Party Princess." In order to get past that, she knows she has to behave perfectly.

Which doesn't mean she can't nurse a little crush on Lieutenant Commander Max Andersen of Her Majesty's Royal Navy. When an accident lands the two of them in the tabloids, Clara knows she should do her best to put distance between the two of them, but she can't resist the chance to get to know him a little better. They agree to just be friends, but can they keep to that agreement as the attraction between the two of them grows?

Monday, March 18, 2024

REVIEW: My Androgynous Boyfriend (manga, vol. 3) by Tamekou, translated by Jocelyne Allen

My Androgynous Boyfriend is a slice-of-life manga with romantic and humorous elements. I bought my copy of this volume new.


Kira (Meguru's model friend from volume 1) invites Meguru and Sasame to his house and gets kind of jealous when Meguru spends a lot of time talking to Sasame. After that, Meguru has to learn to sing and gets paired with a voice coach who wants to be an otokoyaku (actresses who play male roles). One of Wako's mangakas gets hooked on Unicorn Boys (the name of Meguru and Sasame's duo) and wants to draw them, which of course pleases Wako. There are also some couple-y chapters featuring Meguru and Wako - the two of them decluttering their home, working from home together, buying a fridge together, as well as a flashback to Meguru and Wako's earliest days as a couple.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

REVIEW: Mister Hockey (book) by Lia Riley

Mister Hockey is a contemporary sports romance. I bought my copy new.


Breezy Angel is a children's librarian and huge fan of hockey in general and Jed West, captain of the Hellions, in particular. Jed ends up agreeing to fill in at a library event in his coach's place and saves Breezy from being publicly humiliated by a wardrobe malfunction. The two of them start seeing more of each other and soon become a couple, but they're both hiding things. In an effort not to be creepy, Breezy hides all of her Jed West memorabilia and allows him to think she's the only one in her family not wildly into hockey. He, meanwhile, has increasing concerns about his health and the potential impact on his hockey career.

REVIEW: The Fake Mate (book) by Lana Ferguson

The Fake Mate is a blend of paranormal and contemporary romance. I bought my copy new.


In the world of this book, wolf shifters exist alongside humans and are generally accepted, although there are some stereotypes about alpha and omega wolves. Mackenzie is an omega wolf shifter who's tired of being set up on bad dates by her well-meaning grandmother. In order to get her grandmother off her back, she makes up a fake boyfriend and finds herself instantly backed into a corner when she's asked for a name and the only one she can think of is Noah Taylor, aka a wolf shifter and the grumpiest cardiologist at Mackenzie's hospital. Mackenzie asks Noah for help making the lie more believable and ends up agreeing to be his fake mate - he's just been outed as an alpha and must somehow combat stereotypes about violent unmated alphas in order to keep his job.

REVIEW: Tender Is the Flesh (book) by Agustina Bazterrica, translated by Sarah Moses

Tender Is the Flesh could be considered a blend of horror and speculative fiction. I bought my copy brand new.


Marcos is the son of a butcher whose primary focus, right now, is ensuring that his father, who has dementia, gets the care he needs and is respectfully cremated after his death. In this new world, where an infectious virus has supposedly made all animal meat and products poisonous to humans, it's not an easy goal. Meat for human consumption is supposed to come from genetically modified head, bred to age faster, or from First Generation Pure (FGP) head. Special meat isn't supposed to have a name, but it's not unheard of for deceased people to end up sold on the black market, and Marcos wants to make sure that never happens to his father.

We're given detailed descriptions of what Marcos' job at a meat processing plant is like, as he talks to tanners, breeders, and others his company works with, and gives potential new hires a tour of his plant. He can barely stomach this work anymore, to the point that he secretly stops eating meat altogether, and it nearly pushes him over the edge when a client gifts him an FGP female.

Sunday, March 3, 2024

REVIEW: My Androgynous Boyfriend (manga, vol. 2) by Tamekou, translated by Jocelyne Allen

My Androgynous Boyfriend is a slice-of-life manga. I bought my copy of this volume new.


Meguru visits Wako's parents' home (they love him). Wako tries to convince Meguru to apply to be a Log House resident (something like the show Terrace House?) in order to get an even bigger fanbase. Then Meguru agrees to debut as an androgynous boy duo with equally cute Sasame. There's also a brief flashback to Wako and Meguru's high school days - he thought they were dating while she thought they were just going on a series of photo shoots.

REVIEW: Loading Penguin Hugs: Heartwarming Comics from Chibird (graphic novel) by Jacqueline Chen

Loading Penguin Hugs is a Chibird comics collection featuring comics you may be familiar with from reposts on your social media feeds.

Not much to say about this one - the comics work better as random online encouragement than as a "read in one sitting" thing. Still, the art is cute and the messages are good.

The volume is indexed according to the type of encouragement the comics provide (self-esteem, motivation, working hard, etc.), which I thought was both unusual and nice. 


A couple pages of cute stickers, 18 designs in all. The pages aren't perforated, so you can't easily remove them.

REVIEW: A Story of Seven Lives: The Complete Manga Collection (manga) by Shirakawa Gin, translated by Alexa Frank

The Story of Seven Lives is a blend of drama and some fantasy elements. I bought my copy of this omnibus volume new.


Nanao used to be a house cat, but he's now yet another abandoned stray cat. He spends his days alongside his best friend Machi, a fellow stray, trying to survive just like all of the other strays in their neighborhood. 

Meanwhile, Yoshino, who for some reason has an aversion to cats, runs the Narita Bathhouse with help from her younger brother. The neighborhood the bathhouse is in is known for its feral cat population, which creates some cute moments for tourists to photograph but has negative aspects as well. In the interests of reducing the local feral cat population, people are now forbidden from feeding them unless they're on the neighborhood cat feeding schedule, which all the local shops are part of. To her shock, Yoshino is first up on the schedule, which requires her to face her feelings about cats and her memories of and grief over her husband, who died in an accident shortly after they were married.

This manga is a combination of several things: a "keep your cats inside" PSA, a story about a widow overcoming her grief over the death of her husband and learning to love the cats he loved, and a story about cats dealing with feline politics and trying to figure out how and whether to trust humans.

REVIEW: Heartstopper (graphic novel, vol. 5) by Alice Oseman

Heartstopper is a YA high school romance graphic novel series. I bought my copy of this volume new.


In this volume, Charlie and Nick are having to confront upcoming changes in their lives. Nick is considering university options and the possibility of a long distance relationship with Charlie. Charlie is still working on his body image issues and his eating disorder, although he's doing much better. As he adjusts to the idea of school life without Nick around everyday, he also finds himself thinking about his and Nick's relationship. He thinks he's ready to take things to the next level, but is Nick?

REVIEW: Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon (graphic novel) written by Matt Fraction, art by David Aja (#1-3) and Javier Pulido (#4-5)

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon is a Marvel comics collection. I bought my copy of this volume new.


Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon collects Hawkeye (2012) #1-5 and Young Avengers Presents (2008) #6.

In this volume, Hawkeye deals with a rent increase, steals from thieves who steal from thieves, and has to do some work to get an incriminating tape back. There's also a flashback to Kate Bishop as Hawkeye trying to prove herself to the real Hawkeye.

I used to read a lot of Mavel and DC comics, but that was decades ago. I haven't even been keeping up with the Marvel movies very well. I don't think I've ever read or watched anything with Kate Bishop in it. Basically, I'm probably not the best person to be reviewing this. That said, I think I picked this up because I read somewhere that that Matt Fraction's writing was good and that this was a decent starting place for Hawkeye comics newbies mostly familiar with the Marvel movie universe.

REVIEW: The Lightning Thief (book) by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief is the first book in Riordan's Middle Grade fantasy series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I bought my copy of this volume new.


Percy Jackson is a 12-year-old boy with dyslexia and ADHD attending a school for at-risk students in New York. Percy's first major clue that something weird is going on happens during a school trip, when one of his teachers turns into some kind of monster, attacks him, and he defends himself with a sword that, seconds before, was a pen belonging to another one of his teachers.

When school wraps up, he goes home and thinks he's about to go on a much-needed trip with his mom when he's attacked yet again and barely makes it to the safety of Camp Half-Blood. There, Percy learns that he's a demigod - his father is one of the Greek gods. As Percy learns more about himself and his abilities, he gets caught up in a conflict between Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades and must somehow find and return Zeus's missing master bolt.

REVIEW: A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (and Some Bears) (nonfiction) by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling

A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (and Some Bears) is nonfiction written by freelance journalist Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling. I bought my copy of this volume new.


This book is about Grafton, NH, the Free Town Project (a libertarian plan to take over an American town and eliminate its government), and New Hamphire's bears.

I believe this book got on my radar via Obsidian's review. In a way that occasionally feels a bit roundabout, Hongoltz-Hetling writes about Grafton, NH's beginnings, how it contained the seeds that allowed the Free Town Project to take root, and how that then exacerbated and exposed Grafton's various issues.

REVIEW: Everything Is Fine (graphic novel, vol. 2) by Mike Birchall

Everything Is Fine is a horror (dystopian?) graphic novel series. I bought my copy of this volume new.

This review includes slight spoilers.


After the events of volume 1, Maggie has to convince Sam to calm down and then the two of them have to cover up a murder. Luckily, the next door neighbors who ratted Maggie out in the first place, Bob and Linda, are conveniently right there.

I still don't really know what's going on, but I'm pretty thoroughly hooked now. Sam and Maggie's murder coverup probably shouldn't have worked, except this world seems to be operating according to a screwed up set of rules that requires everyone to act a certain way, and Sam and Maggie took advantage of that.

One new thing we know now: whatever is going on, it seems to involve everyone's kids. I thought the kids were all dead, like Poor Winston, but from the sounds of things they're maybe being used as hostages to force the adults to stick to certain types of behavior.


I don't know if this counts as an extra or if it was just the introduction of a new character, but there was a brief sidestory at the end involving a guy whose house is apparently trapped in some kind of bubble. He generally hides inside and leaves his cat, Oscar, to do most of his interacting with the outside world.

Definitely an extra, though: a redone version of a certain scene from volume 2 in which everyone has been given "real" cat heads instead of cartoonish cat heads. There are also a variety of reference illustrations.

Now I'm of wondering if this series' villains are, in fact, actual cats.