Sunday, June 30, 2024

REVIEW: Sentient (graphic novel) written by Jeff Lemire, art by Gabriel Walta

Sentient is a one-shot sci-fi graphic novel. I bought my copy new.


Earth only has about 10 habitable years left. The USS Montgomery is part of an effort to keep humanity going with far-flung colonies on other planets. It's a booster ship intended to add to the population of a colony that's already been established - it's full of families composed of skilled adults with young children.

The colony they're heading towards is threatened by separatists who believe that Earth governments will only repeat the same mistakes elsewhere. Also, what the crew doesn't realize until too late is that one of their own is a separatist. Valarie, the ship's AI, does her best to follow orders and protect the children. Unfortunately, she's too late to save any of the adults. Somehow, she has to train the children, the oldest of whom is only 10, to run and maintain the parts of the ship that she can't.

She does her best, but they're all still kids, and there are dangers to come that she can't predict.

REVIEW: The Hands of the Emperor (book) by Victoria Goddard

The Hands of the Emperor is fantasy. I bought my copy new.


Although Cliopher Mdang, the Secretary in Chief of the Offices of the Lords of State, knows it's close to blasphemy for him to do this, he decides one day to suggest that his Radiancy, the Sun-on-Earth, take a vacation. His Radiancy agrees, and it sets in motion changes and shifts in attitude that Cliopher never dared to expect.

I can't remember how this made it onto my radar. The sheer size of it (an 899-page hardcover) was daunting, but eventually I decided I was in the mood to tackle it. 

Despite reassurances on the author's own website, I was initially worried that this wasn't a good starting point for a newbie to the series like me. There were a lot of characters I didn't know, and lots of references to events I knew nothing about. I couldn't seem to get a handle on anything - it took me longer than it maybe should have to realize that his Radiancy was literally viewed as a god on Earth, and that the rules governing how he could interact with others and vice versa existed because touching him or even looking into his eyes too long could do actual harm to the mere mortals around him.

Luckily, I liked the characters and enjoyed reading about them and their world, or this would have been a chore to get through. The first part describes his Radiancy's vacation, while the next part deals with Cliopher's promotion, the multi-year work required to prepare for his Radiancy's eventual quest for his successor (and Cliopher's plans for his own retirement), and Cliopher's efforts to grapple with the feeling that his life's work has resulted in him not quite belonging anywhere. 

REVIEW: Power Play (book) by Alley Ciz

Power Play is a college sports romance, the first book in the BTU Alumni series. I bought my copy new.


Jake, the Brighton Tynes University hockey team's goalie, is immediately drawn to Jordan when he sees her at Rookies Sports Bar. Then he learns that she's the twin sister of one of his teammates, and therefore off-limits. Even so, he can't stop thinking about her. It doesn't help that she happens to live right next door, and their adorable youngest siblings are friends.

After the way things turned out with Tommy, her ex, Jordan has promised her brothers that she'll never date one of their teammates again. Then she meets Jake, and her resolve falters.

REVIEW: The Titan's Bride (manga, vol. 3) by ITKZ, translated by Katrina Leonoudakis

The Titan's Bride is a fantasy BL series. I bought my copy of this volume new.


Kouichi has decided to go back to his own world, thinking that Caius, powerful as he is, can surely summon another bride for himself. However, there are details Caius didn't mention. Once he learns the truth, Kouichi reconsiders his decision.

Although Kouichi and Caius are now a happily married couple, things still aren't perfect. Kouichi realizes that, due to their size difference, he's the only one who's fully satisfied when they have sex. Caius is fine with this, but Kouichi isn't, so the two of them agree to seek out a famous elven sex researcher and ask for his advice.

REVIEW: The Titan's Bride (manga, vol. 2) by ITKZ, translated by Katrina Leonoudakis

The Titan's Bride is a fantasy BL manga series. I bought my copy of this volume new.


Things don't go as planned when Caius attempts to get the raisa fruit needed to cure Kouichi, but he manages to make everything work out anyway.

Now that he's no longer in danger of dying from magical lust, Kouichi can't help but think about the people he left behind in his own world. He's sure they're worried sick about him - can he really leave them behind forever? 

Sunday, June 23, 2024

REVIEW: My Life Among Humans (graphic novel) by Jed McGowan

My Life Among Humans is a sci-fi graphic novel. I bought my copy new.


The POV character is a small alien that was born and raised solely to act as a research tool for its manager. In this one's case, it's meant to observe humans in their natural habitat. It releases microscopic scouts into the air that attach to the brains of nearby humans and allow it to know and experience their thoughts, memories, and emotions, without affecting them in any other way.

It starts with Will and then expands to his family, but it gets distracted by its own curiosity and feeling of connection to Will's home and family and is seen by them by accident. Being seen by humans, and thereby tainting the manager's research, must never happen - it's the kind of thing that could get the alien killed by its manager. Not knowing what else to do, it tries to calm the humans down and realizes that, despite what it's always been told, it can somehow use its scouts to control humans.

REVIEW: Heaven Official's Blessing (Tian Guan Ci Fu), Vol. 3 (book) by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, art by ZeldaCW, translated by Suika and Pengie

Heaven Official's Blessing is a fantasy historicalish danmei (Chinese m/m) series. I bought my copy of this volume new.


I waited way too long to review this, but I have notes, so I'll do my best. 

Anyway, the first half of the volume is a flashback to Xie Lian's early days as a god, desperately trying to protect everyone, even if it involves breaking rules. He is, however, doomed to failure, and his efforts make things worse, leading to the Human Face Disease. In the second half of the volume, Xie Lian investigates a fetus spirit and spends time with Hua Cheng.

REVIEW: The Earl & the Fairy (manga, vol. 1) story & art by Ayuko, original concept by Mizue Tani, translated by John Werry

The Earl & the Fairy is a fantasy romance series based on a Japanese light novel series. I bought my copy of this volume used.


Lydia Carlton is a fairy doctor, one of the few people with the ability to see magical creatures and communicate with them in order to resolve issues between them and humans. Intending to go visit her father, she actually ends up kidnapped instead, and escapes with a mysterious young man named Edgar who claims to be a descendant of the Blue Knight, Earl Ibrazel. He needs Lydia's help to find the Merrow Star and claim his birthright.

I've only read a bit of the light novel series - my first exposure to this series was via the anime. This manga was okay, but I recall the anime being better. 

The action scenes were confusing. Honestly, the whole situation was a little confusing. 


A short note from the adapter.

REVIEW: Moon Knight: The Complete Collection (graphic novel) written by Jeff Lemire, art by Greg Smallwood, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Garland, Francesco Francavilla, James Stokoe

Moon Knight: The Complete Collection collects Moon Knight (2016) #1-14. I bought my copy of this volume new.


Marc Spector is Moon Knight, the hero who was resurrected by the Egyptian god Khonshu. Or is he? Part of him is in a mental institution, being treated for dissociative identity disorder. Part of him sees behind the mental institution to the various Egyptian gods and monsters that torment him and his friends in the guise of institution employees. Which view of the world is the real one?

As Marc struggles to figure out where he is and what's going on, his view of the world and his own identity fractures even further. He's a cabbie named Jake Lockley. He's a wealthy movie producer named Steven Grant, working on a live action movie production of Moon Knight for Marvel. He's Marc Spector, an astronaut battling his way through space werewolves. He's Mr. Knight.

REVIEW: Fiasco (book) by Constance Fay

Fiasco is sci-fi romance, the second book in the author's Uncharted Hearts series (trilogy?). I bought my copy new.


Bounty hunter Cyn Khaw is best known as the cold-blooded killer who spaced a ship full of slavers. Most recently, she pretended to be a woman named Generosity in order to infiltrate a cult and rescue her clients' daughter.

Inside, Cyn is an absolute mess. She practically lives on stims and barely sleeps, because, when she does, she has screaming nightmares about the incident with the slaver ship. Although her reputation is useful, she isn't nearly as cold-blooded as people think. She has one goal driving her: to find and destroy her cousin Aymbe's killer, the man known as the Abyssal Abductor.

When the Abductor kidnaps Estella Escajeda's secret daughter, Cyn agrees to help, even though it'll mean working with the crew of the Calamity - teamwork isn't Cyn's forte. This setup is even less appealing when Cyn learns that the Calamity used to be the Quest, which means she'll be in close quarters with Micah, the attractive medic who tried to help her when he thought she was trapped in a cult.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

REVIEW: Sugar Apple Fairy Tale, Vol. 3: The Silver Sugar Master and the Ivory Aristocrat (book) by Miri Mikawa, illustrated by Aki, translated by Nicole Wilder

Sugar Apple Fairy Tale is a Japanese fantasy romance series. I bought my copy of this volume new.


Due to a poor harvest of sugar apples, Anne must work at the Radcliffe House (where she has nothing but enemies, except Keith) to refine communal sugar in order to be allowed to make enough of her own sugar for the next candy fair. While working herself to the bone making both communal sugar and sugar for her own personal use, she must somehow come up with a design for her silver sugar sculpture and find the time to make it.

REVIEW: The Titan's Bride (manga, vol. 1) by ITKZ, translated by Katrina Leonoudakis

The Titan's Bride is a BL fantasy manga. I bought my copy of this volume new.


High school senior Kouichi is thinking about graduation and girls when he decides to take a break and masturbate to let off a bit of steam. At that exact moment, he is summoned to another world where he is declared to be the fated bride-to-be of Caius, the crown prince of the kingdom of the Titans. Kouichi has some understandable concerns about his new role - he's male, and much smaller than Caius, and they've just met - which Caius cheerfully brushes off (hey, who knows, maybe a male human can get pregnant with a Titan's child?). However, Caius wants Kouichi to feel comfortable, so he promises not to force himself on him and asks for a month to convince him to stay and be his bride.

REVIEW: My Brain Is Different: Stories of ADHD and Other Developmental Disorders (nonfiction manga) nine true stories illustrated by Monzusu, translated by Ben Trethewey

My Brain Is Different is nonfiction manga. I bought my copy new.


This manga features nine stories by people with ADHD, autism, or a learning disorder, including Monzusu's own story. Each account begins with the person's name, age, diagnoses (developmental disorder + comorbidity such as depression), and what, if any, medication the person is on.

This was meant to show the many different paths and experiences of these contributors, even if their general diagnoses were similar. Some folks had happier stories than others - be aware that this does touch on things like suicide attempts, extreme poverty, bullying, and more.

Overall, I thought this was okay. There wasn't enough time to really delve deeply into anyone's story, so I was left with more questions about Japan's available social services and education about these issues than anything.

REVIEW: Emma Dreams of Stars: Inside the Gourmet Guide (graphic novel memoir) by Emmanuelle Maisonneuve and Julia Pavlowitch, art by Kan Takahama, translated by Eamon Fogarty

Emma Dreams of Stars is an autobiographical French graphic novel. I bought my copy new.


This autobiographical work tells the story of Emma becoming the first woman to be hired as a Michelin Guide Inspector. There's a bit about her initial training (reading, shadowing three experienced inspectors), her doubts, the tug-of-war between her personal life and her dream of doing this work, and her adventures across France and Japan (where she went on vacation).

REVIEW: Batman: Wayne Family Adventures, Vol. 2 (graphic novel) written by CRC Payne, inks by Starbite and Toby Fan

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.


If you liked the first volume, you're more than likely going to enjoy this one, since it delivers more of the same, along with tidbits of serious stuff like PTSD, imposter syndrome, overwork, etc. 

It occasionally had a "very special message" sort of feel that was a bit much for me, but I still loved it overall. You get to see Superman and Batman hanging out as pals, Alfred and the Kents talking about parenthood, and more fun and occasionally warm and fuzzy stuff. 


A couple pages of bonus sketches.

Friday, June 21, 2024

REVIEW: The Girl That Can't Get a Girlfriend (autobiographical manga) by Mieri Hiranishi

The Girl That Can't Get a Girlfriend is an autobiographical manga. I bought my copy new.


In this autobiographical manga, Mieri is an awkward, nerdy lesbian who thinks her dreams have come true when she meets Ash, a hot androgynous woman, and realizes her feelings are returned. They date for about a month, and Mieri pretty much exists for Ash. Then they break up, and Mieri still feels crushed four years later.

I actually finished this several months ago and am only now getting around to reviewing it. I...was not impressed. Mieri's obsession with Ash wasn't exactly healthy - in fact, her general theme seemed to be low self-esteem and putting anyone she deemed attractive on a pedestal. 

The author did get to a place, by the end of the volume, where she realized that she needed to work on being a person she could like and approve of, though, so that was nice. But she never really got past the point of viewing every aspect of her life as discrete blocks that she had to crowbar into her life rather than things that could, even just some of the time, work and function together.

I could see this being a relatable read for some folks, and it had some funny moments, but I was expecting a bit more from it than I got.


A bonus comic/author's note, a couple Q&A pages, and a bonus gallery with cover sketch ideas.

REVIEW: Calamity (book) by Constance Fay

Calamity is sci-fi romance. I bought my copy new.


Years ago, Temperance (Temper) Reed was a member of one of the wealthy Ten Families, second only to the Five. Then she tried to interfere with one of her brother's schemes and ended up banished. Her only home, since then, has been the Quest, a spaceship with a ragtag crew. 

After she's betrayed by her lover, the ship's captain, she buys the ship off of him, becomes the new captain, and tries to get jobs decent enough to dig herself out of debt. Unfortunately, her first job as the ship's new captain seems likely to be riddled with traps. The Escajeda, one of the Five, hires her to scout part of Herschel Two, a mostly deserted planet that happens to have a cult living right near the Escajeda's choice of survey site. In addition, the head of the Escajeda has forced her to bring his second child, Arcadio Escajeda, along as the ship's new security expert. Temper's pretty sure his primary goal is actually to spy on her and her crew, and make sure they're upholding their end of the deal. It also seems like he's hiding something - for some reason he keeps leaving the ship to do some scouting on his own when he thinks no one is watching.

REVIEW: Servant x Service (manga, vol. 2) by Karino Takatsu, translated by Amanda Haley

Servant x Service is a workplace comedy/romcom manga. I bought my copy of this volume new.


Hasebe and Lucy's first date is coming up - can he successfully convince her that he really likes her and isn't just hitting on her as part of his playboy image? And will Ichimiya finally get the courage to tell his younger sister that he's dating Chihaya? Will that damage the friendship between Chihaya and Ichimiya's sister? Will Chihaya finally get Lucy to cosplay for her? Oh, and will Lucy finally track down the civil servant who allowed her parents to give her a ridiculously long name and give him or her a piece of her mind?

REVIEW: Killer Content (book) by Kiley Roache

Killer Content is a YA thriller/mystery. I bought my copy new.


Sydney, Gwen, Cami, Tucker, Beau, and Kat are six teens who live in a beachfront mansion they've named the Lit Lair - it's a collab house intended to allow the TikTokers to work together and use their follower counts to boost each other to greater heights. Sydney's parents made the down payment on the house (which she never lets them forget), but they all have an agreement that essentially makes them equal, as long as they abide by the rules of the house and continue to pay rent on their rooms. 

Of course, teens being teens, there's a lot of drama under the surface. Sydney and Tucker are a couple, but Tucker's been sleeping with someone else behind Sydney's back. Cami has a secret crush on Gwen, Gwen is painfully aware that the others don't consider her to be very smart, and Beau and Kat (who many of the Lit Lair's fans ship, although they aren't a couple) are the only two in the group whose TikToks have a comedy rather than dance focus. 

After Sydney gets in a fight with her housemates, she leaves and doesn't even come back for a planned celebrity meeting. But she's done similar things before, so the others shrug it off...until the next morning, when Cami spots Sydney's body in the pool while filming a live tour of the house. A short while later, someone uses the Lit Lair social media accounts to tauntingly post about her death. True, the housemates had some beefs with each other, but did one of them really hate Sydney enough to kill her?

Thursday, June 20, 2024

REVIEW: The Prince and the Dressmaker (graphic novel) by Jen Wang

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a historicalish graphic novel. I bought my copy new.


Frances, a young dressmaker, gets noticed due to a dress she designed - it fit the young lady's requirements ("Make me look like the devil's wench.") but horrifies nearly everyone else...except a mysterious aristocrat who wants to hire her to be their private dressmaker. Then Frances learns that her new patron is Prince Sebastian. After listening to him, Frances decides to continue with their agreement - Sebastian gets to be the beautiful and mysterious Lady Crystallia, and Frances' work gets seen by larger and larger audiences.

However, as Lady Crystallia gets more attention, Prince Sebastian worries about his parents finding out about his cross-dressing, particularly if people see Frances with him and connect Lady Crystallia and Prince Sebastian. At the same time, if Frances wants to achieve her own dreams, she can't just stay in the shadows for Sebastian's sake.

REVIEW: Senpai, This Can't Be Love! (manga) by Shinta Harekawa, translated by Leo McDonagh

Senpai, This Can't Be Love! is a BL manga one-shot (I think??). I bought my copy new.


Yanase is a veteran CG designer who's been assigned to mentor Kaneda, one of two new hires. Although Yanase is skilled, confident, and generally friendly and easy to get along with, he has no idea how to deal with Kaneda, who does his work well enough but behaves so coldly that Yanase is convinced the guy hates him. 

In reality, Kaneda idolizes Yanase, the person who inspired him to become a CG designer in the first place. He's so determined not to be an embarrassing fanboy that he doesn't realize how he comes across to Yanase. 

As the two of them work together more on a big new project, Yanase gradually begins to understand his trainee more. Even as Kaneda's enthusiasm for the work reawakens Yanase's own enjoyment, it bothers him that Kaneda is putting him on a pedestal.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

REVIEW: From the Top (book) by Jaqueline Snowe

From the Top is a contemporary college romance. I bought my copy new.


Cami is a college senior. She's worked hard these past few years, but now it seems like everything's falling apart. She expected to be made captain of her school's dance team, but instead that position is given to a junior. She's being temporarily moved out of the dream on-campus apartment she saved up for and into a co-ed dorm with no air conditioning. To top it all off, she also learns she's missing a couple required classes and will end up having a heavier course load than expected.

All her life, Cami has projected a certain image - she's cool, strong, and confident. She's proud of her body and her abilities, and she's used to ignoring other people's assumptions about her. However, she's recently started to realize that the assumptions made about her have negatively affected others in her life, such as her twin sister. 

Freddie is an engineering student who's had a crush on Cami for a while, but an incident a year ago taught him that girls like her don't fall for guys like him. His ex-girlfriend underscored that message by dumping him for being too boring. Now Cami's living in the dorm room next to his, and as he gets to know her better, he realizes he may have misjudged her.

REVIEW: Just a Little Crush (novella) by Willow Winters & Amelia Wilde

Just a Little Crush is a contemporary romance novella. I got it for free.


Aubree has had a crush on her best friend's brother, Jackson, ever since she first moved to town three years ago. At the time, however, she was seeing someone else. After she broke up with that guy, Jackson was seeing someone else. There's never been a good time to confess her feelings, and now...she doesn't want to ruin her friendship with him or his sister.

They're all doing their regular Sunday night thing, drinking and watching football at The Peanut Bar and Grill, when a couple guys hit on Aubree. Jackson cuts in, and suddenly things shift between the two of them. But is it just a one-night stand or the start of something else?

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

REVIEW: Another 2001 (book) by Yukito Ayatsuji, translated by Nicole Wilder

Another 2001 is a combination of Japanese horror and mystery. I bought my copy new.


It's 2001, and yet another "on" year for Grade 3 Class 3, this time from the POV of Sou, a relative of someone who died due to the previous "calamity" in 1998. After the way things went in 1998, it's decided that the usual preventative method of declaring one person in the class a "non-exister" isn't enough. Instead, there will be two: Sou and Hazumi. Sou is willing and determined to play his part well. Hazumi, on the other hand, is less committed.

As things begin to fall apart, Sou clings to the hope that Misaki Mei, a girl who was a student in the 1998 Grade 3 Class 3, can provide some useful advice and information. Unfortunately, whatever it is about the curse that interferes with people's memories has blurred hers - she no longer remembers how she and Koichi were able to bring the deaths to a halt in 1998. 

REVIEW: The Perfect Marriage (book) by Jeneva Rose

The Perfect Marriage is a thriller. I bought my copy new.


Sarah is a successful lawyer, while her husband is a not-so-successful author. It's their 10-year anniversary, and Adam isn't surprised when Sarah has to cancel their plans - he counted on this, in fact. Rather than spending time with Sarah at their cabin, Adam has made arrangements to be with Kelly, his mistress. After getting really drunk, he wakes up the next day, leaves, and later learns that Kelly is dead, stabbed 30+ times, and he's the top suspect. The only lawyer he knows who has any chance of saving him is, unfortunately, his wife.

REVIEW: A House With Good Bones (book) by T. Kingfisher

A House With Good Bones is horror. I bought my copy new.


Sam, an archaeological entymologist, goes to stay with her mom at her grandmother's former home and is shocked and disturbed by the changes she sees in her mother. Although Sam's mom used to be the polar opposite of her grandmother, a horrible and racist lady who wanted everything to be "nice and normal," her opinions seem to have undergone some sort of shift - either that, or something has her too anxious and afraid to behave the way she normally does. She's also changed the house to look the way Sam's grandmother used to have it, and she's lost a lot of weight.

As Sam tries to figure out what's going on with her mother, she also worries about whatever is going on with the house. There are no insects in her grandmother's rose garden, absolutely none, and yet somehow swarms of ladybugs invade the house. Then there are the vultures that seem to be keeping watch over the house.

REVIEW: A Court of Thorns and Roses (book) by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses is fantasy romance. I bought my copy new.


Nineteen-year-old Feyre is her family's primary provider, hunting what few animals she can find in the woods near their home. Her father used to be wealthy, but some bad business decisions have since pushed them into poverty. Out of necessity and a vow to her dying mother, Feyre taught herself how to hunt to keep the family going, but a part of her can't help but resent that her father and sisters don't do much to help.

Feyre kills a wolf during her latest hunt, only to learn that he was a faerie - his enraged friend, Tamlin, bursts into her home and demands that she come live in his home in Prythian, one of the Faerie realms, or die. When she gets to his home, she learns that he and the rest of his court have been cursed - the animal masks they wore at a past masquerade have become their faces. As Feyre adjusts to her new home, she finds herself softening towards Tamlin. However, someone or something that Tamlin refuses to talk about is threatening him and his court, shaking the foundations of Feyre's growing sense of peace and happiness.

REVIEW: Pixels of You (graphic novel) written by Ananth Hirsch and Yuko Ota, illustrated by J.R. Doyle

Pixels of You is a science fiction graphic novel. I bought my copy new.


In this near-future graphic novel, Indira and Fawn are photography students interning at a local gallery. Indira is a human who was given a cybernetic eye after she was injured in the accident that killed her parents. She struggles with pain and nightmares. Fawn is a human-presenting AI who's struggling to find her path in a world with certain biases and perceptions of AI. Her parents look more robotic but gave her a more human-like body in a effort to help her fit in better, and they're currently in the process of trying to pass some kind of citizenship test required because Fawn is born-AI.

After a public clash between Indira and Fawn, a planned split showing of their photography is instead changed to a joint exhibition. If they can't learn to work together, they won't get school credit for their work.

REVIEW: Anyhow, the Rabbit is Infatuated With the Puppy (manga) by Nie, translated by Yui

Anyhow, the Rabbit is Infatuated With the Puppy is a one-shot m/m romantic comedy manga. I bought my copy of this volume new.


Usagi is a 25-year-old office worker who finds interacting with people in real life to be troublesome and awkward, although he's good-looking enough that his coldness doesn't stop his female coworkers from inviting him to department get-togethers. All Usagi wants to do, however, is read shojo manga and play his favorite MMO, Tail Earth. His in-game avatar is a beautiful bunny girl named Usaco. He's particularly close to another player, Gakuto, who helped him out when he was new. Even though Gakuto knows he's a guy in real-life, he regularly compliments and flirts with Usaco - Usagi, meanwhile, happily feels like he's getting to roleplay his own cute shojo romance story.

Then Gakuto proposes that they go to the Tail Earth fan convention together. Although this risks the possibility that Gakuto won't measure up to Usagi's shojo fantasies, he ends up agreeing to go, and the two of them hit it off really well in real life. They decide to go to an internet cafe and play Tail Earth together...and things suddenly get much steamier than Usagi expected. Not only does this not fit his shojo romance expectations, but there's the issue that Gakuto is a high schooler.

REVIEW: Turns Out My Online Friend is My Real-Life Boss! (manga, vol. 1) by nmura, translated by Jacqueline Fung

Turns Out My Online Fried is My Real-Life Boss is a m/m romantic comedy series. I bought my copy of this volume new.


In the real world, Hashimoto is an average office worker who feels beaten down by his boss, Shirase, who only ever has critical things to say about his work. In his favorite online game, he goes by Aaaaa. He's been playing for 2.5 years and is friends with U.M.A. (playing for 8 months), who he once helped out in the game. He's also friends with Salted Salmon, an enthusiastic younger player who's part of a different guild. 

Aaaaa and U.M.A. arrange to have an IRL meetup. Due to a mix-up caused by a simultaneous guild IRL meetup, Hashimoto accidentally mistakes someone else for U.M.A. That's quickly cleared up, but then Hashimoto realizes that the real person behind U.M.A. is actually his boss, which fills him with horror considering all the times he vented to U.M.A. about his boss. Then a third person, Kumataro, the one Hishimoto originally mistook for U.M.A., invites himself to their incredibly awkward meetup...and doesn't immediately clarify that he's the person behind Salted Salmon.

Misunderstandings abound, eventually resulting in a weird accidental love triangle.

Saturday, June 8, 2024

REVIEW: My Roommate is a Vampire (book) by Jenna Levine

My Roommate is a Vampire is a paranormal romantic comedy. I bought my copy new.


Cassie is a struggling artist who's facing eviction and is in desperate need of a new, cheap place to live. But is she desperate enough to risk responding to fishy ad asking only $200 for a room in an apartment in a lovely Chicago neighborhood? Well, it's not like she has a lot of other options...

Her new roommate, Frederick J. Fitzwilliam, is gorgeous and kind of weird, but Cassie is reasonably certain he isn't a serial killer. He's got odd taste in home decor, but he makes it clear that he's fine with her redecorating. In general, he's practically falling over himself to make her feel welcome in the apartment, and his few rules (he sleeps during the day and is not to be disturbed, and his room and one closet are off-limits) aren't particularly difficult to follow. The only drawback to her new living situation: she's really attracted to her new roommate, and that's just a recipe for disaster.

Then she learns his biggest secret, that he's actually a vampire, and has to decide whether the cheap rent and blossoming relationship between them is worth the possibility that he might view her as a potential future meal. Luckily for her, he really doesn't intend to harm her, and he needs her help, if she's willing to provide it.

REVIEW: Do Not Disturb (book) by Freida McFadden

Do Not Disturb is a thriller. I bought my copy new.


Quinn has just killed her husband. In order to avoid being sent to prison - his wealthy and influential family would see to that, even though it could be argued that she'd killed him in self-defense - she decides to leave, right this instant. Unfortunately, she hasn't prepared for this at all. She doesn't have much cash, and she has no idea where she's going to go. She gets as far as she can before a snowstorm forces her to find a place to stay for the night. 

The Baxter Motel is small, isolated, and cheap. Nick, the owner, is kind and makes Quinn a quick sandwich when she learns that the only nearby restaurant is closed. However, as Quinn talks to the person in the room next to hers and learns more about the motel and its history, she begins to worry that stopping here was a mistake. It doesn't help that it feels like she's being watched - it seems as though Nick's sick, homebound wife may be keeping an eye on her from their nearby home.

REVIEW: The Handyman Method (book) by Nick Cutter, Andrew F. Sullivan

The Handyman Method is horror. I bought my copy new.


The Saban family are the first ones to move into a new, unfinished development community. Rita Saban is a successful lawyer. Trent Saban, her husband, is also a lawyer, but currently on paid leave (significantly less than he used to make) due to an incident that happened in the recent past. They have one child, Milo, who has a pet turtle named Morty.

When they first move into their new home, Trent's biggest complaint is that the beautiful lawn he was promised doesn't exist yet. The house itself initially looks perfect...until Trent takes a closer look and sees the large crack in one of the closets. He can fix it, he's sure, even though he's never previously been very handy. His ego has taken a bit of a hit lately due to his work situation, and he's determined to prove his worth by taking care of the various little issues around the house, starting with that crack. With the help of "Handyman Hank" videos he finds on Youtube and frequent trips to Home Depot, he begins to feel more confident and capable. But there's something darker behind those videos, and before he knows it, Trent finds himself caught up in it.

REVIEW: Ants: Workers of the World (nonfiction book) text by Eleanor Spicer Rice, photographs by Eduard Florin Niga

Ants: Workers of the World is a nonfiction book. I bought my copy new.


I need to be better about looking at the physical measurements of books I buy online - I wasn't expecting this one to be so large, almost 12 inches tall and 11.5 inches long (although not particularly thick, at only 144 pages). This isn't really a complaint - the book's ant photographs are a huge part of its appeal, and I appreciate that they're all big and glossy. I was just taken aback by the size of the box on my porch.

I'm nowhere near an expert in ants, although I've read a couple books about them and was really interested in them for a period of time when I was younger. Information-wise, there's only enough here to whet a person's appetite. That said, it's still intriguing stuff, I learned a few things, and the author's appreciation for and fascination with ants was palpable. 

There's a chapter on the relationship between plants and ants, a chapter on ant life cycles, a chapter on queens and female workers, and a chapter how form meets function in ant bodies. Each chapter includes full-page macrophotography of various species and genders of ants that illustrates information provided in the text. 

My favorite chapters were probably the final two. The photographs of ant males were gorgeous and fascinating, especially since they were paired with photographs of workers or queens. Being able to directly compare the two really drove home how different ant males can look from females. 

The final chapter, "Where Form Meets Function," was the longest and included quite a few close-up shots of the heads and abdomens of various ant species. I particularly liked the close-up of the head of a Cataulacus granulatus worker's head. Considering how good the photographs in that section were, I wish there had been even more text about the specific ant species pictured.

All in all, this is a beautiful book, even if it's a bit lighter on information than I'd have preferred.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

REVIEW: That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon (book) by Kimberly Lemming

That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon is a blend of fantasy romance and comedy. I bought my copy new.


Cinnamon just wants to live a peaceful life on her family's spice farm. Now that the goddess Myva has chosen her newest heroes and Cin knows for sure that she isn't one of them, she figures she can relax a little. Or maybe not. On her way home, a little drunk from a town celebration, Cin saves a guy who turns out to actually be a demon. She runs home and somehow survives, only to have him casually stop by the next day and completely turn her world upside down. According to him, Myva isn't actually a goddess, and he'll need Cin's help to defeat her and free all the demons who've spent their lives enslaved and/or driven mad by her magic.

REVIEW: The Haunting (book) by Natasha Preston

The Haunting is a YA thriller. I bought my copy new.


Almost a year ago, Penny's small town was rocked by the news that Jackson Whitmore, the father of Penny's boyfriend Nash, was a serial killer who'd murdered several teens. Now Halloween is rolling around again, and Penny can't help but think of Nash, who, along with his older sister Grace, was basically ostracized after his father was caught. Even though Penny knew he'd been as much in the dark about his father as everyone else, she still cut off contact with Nash on her parents' orders. She's regretting that decision now.

But then a new body turns up. Is it a copycat killer? Everyone immediately focuses on Nash and Grace, particularly Nash. Penny refuses to believe it's him, but someone's started these murders up again, and she can't help but think it's someone close to her.