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LG

Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 1
Dojyomaru, Fuyuyuki, Sean McCann
Progress: 103/374 pages
Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Jeff Lindsay
Progress: 424/470 minutes
Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story
Mary Downing Hahn
Progress: 184/184 pages
Parental Guidance
Avery Flynn
Progress: 40 %
An Offer From a Gentleman
Julia Quinn
Progress: 102/358 pages
The Twisted Ones
T. Kingfisher
Progress: 385/385 pages
Educated
Tara Westover
Progress: 315/730 minutes
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, Vol. 2
Satoru Yamaguchi, Nami Hidaka
Progress: 24/171 pages
Graphic Medicine Manifesto
MK Czerwiec, Kimberly R. Myers, Scott T. Smith, Michael J. Green, Susan Merrill Squier, Ian Williams
Progress: 26/172 pages
Ao Oni: Mutation
Kenji Kuroda, Karin Suzuragi, Alexander Keller-Nelson
Progress: 30/152 pages

Booklikesopoly Pandemic Edition: 7th roll

No pictures in this update, and also no attempts to include any of Booklikes' links or linking images, because I don't think I could stand the frustration. Plus, I don't want to tempt the site to just time out. Booklikes is still working incredibly slowly for me.

 

Anyway, I finished How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 1 (374 pages), so that gets me another $3.

 

Bank: $40

1st roll: 1 + 3 = 4 (Ascendance of a Bookworm, Part 1, Vol. 3, 428 pages, $5)

2nd roll: 4 + 3 = 7 (The Gamekeeper's Lady, 283 pages, $3

3rd roll: 5 + 6 = 11 (The Accidental Demon Slayer, 292 pages, $3)

4th roll: 1 + 4 = 5 (The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1, 329 pages, $3)

5th roll: 2 + 4 = 6 (Heart Change by Robin D. Owens, 368 pages, $3)

6th roll: 5 + 1 = 6 (How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 1, 374 pages, $3)

 

7th roll: 3 + 1 = 4

 

I was on spot 36. This gets me past GO (earn $5 automatically) and onto to Spot 3, School's Out for Summer. Requirements:

 

Read a book set in a school or a college, or that is considered a "classic" (any criteria you want), or that is frequently banned.

 

As much as I like Murderbot, I don't think the series has made its way onto any "classics" lists yet, so once again I can't choose Artificial Condition. I'm honestly not sure what books I own that would both work for this and fit my current mood. Most of the YA I own isn't contemporary-set and might not take place in a school. I could maybe reread M.C.A. Hogarth's Mindtouch, but I'm kind of in the mood for something new. I don't know, I'll have to think about it.

Lentil soup, made using this recipe.

 

I doubled the carrots, used green lentils because that's all I can find around here, used dried minced onions instead of fresh, and skipped the spinach. The only part I regretted was the carrots - I didn't realize the chopping motions would aggravate my elbow so much. But the soup is tasty and will provide me with several meals worth of leftovers.

Pandemic post: Oh boy

In preparation for the next day I'm expected to be at the library (Wednesday), I got a little bolder about saying that I'm not comfortable doing 2-hour record editing sessions while sitting right next to my boss, especially while she opts not to wear a mask. Last I heard from her, she was very upset (angry? annoyed? not sure) but said she'd wear a mask next time. She'll have Monday and Tuesday to cool off, and then I see how things go on Wednesday. I predict she either won't speak to me at all (cold shoulder treatment is her thing) or she'll be extra vocal about how annoying the mask is but how she'll wear it because I'm so insistent. I hate feeling like the workplace nuisance, but if she actually does wear a mask it'll be worth it.

 

Edit: Aaand it looks like she opted for the cold shoulder response. Which is okay as long as it doesn't go longer than a couple days, because we do have a time sensitive issue I emailed her about on Friday that needs to be taken care of. ::sigh::

Doing status updates solely on GR for a while

Booklikes is still working for me, but so slowly that I think I'm just going to do all my reading status updates over at GR for a while. That should hopefully lessen my irritation. I'll still post reviews and BLopoly updates here, though, as well as any non-book related things.

Reading progress update: I've read 103 out of 374 pages.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 1 - Dojyomaru, Fuyuyuki, Sean McCann

The premise is great, the execution much less so. A Japanese guy named Kazuya Souma is summoned to another world to be a hero. However, he's not really a demon-slaying kind of guy, and the summoning didn't specifically ask for someone who could slay the demon lord, so he decides that his heroism will involve improving the country's economy. He uses his new magical ability to get paperwork done at a faster rate, and he puts out a call for people with abilities that might be able to help the country.

 

I just finished the section in which he evaluated the five most gifted individuals, and I'm not all that impressed. Apparently the absolute most important person in the bunch is a guy named Poncho Panacotta, who went broke pursuing his desire to eat anything and everything that could possibly be eaten. In a country that is currently in the midst of a food shortage. The author just spent several pages emphasizing how wonderful it was that Souma recognized Poncho's importance, but readers still don't know why he'll turn out to be so vital. All I can think is that maybe he'll have knowledge of a particular source of food that most folks in the country don't know about. But I feel like this would work a lot better if Poncho were a talented chef rather than a self-admitted glutton.

 

Souma's a hard worker, sure, but he doesn't strike me as particularly amazing. Instead, it's more like this country was so badly managed that even Souma's basic knowledge about how things might be improved (selling all the things in the royal vault that have purely monetary value, gradually switching from growing cotton to growing more food crops, improving the health of the country's forests with periodic thinning, etc.) is seen as revolutionary.

Reading progress update: I've read 21 out of 374 pages.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 1 - Dojyomaru, Fuyuyuki, Sean McCann

It took me two tries to add this to my Currently Reading shelf. Booklikes kept timing out. If this keeps up, I may have to go on a Booklikes break. I just copied over the information I need in order to keep track of BLopoly even if I can't reach my own Booklikes blog.

 

Anyway, this is my pick for my latest BLopoly spot. The title has all the letters necessary to spell "Rome." We'll see how it goes. It's another J-Novel Club title, so I'm not expecting much. The main character seems a bit boring, and the story just sort of plops readers into whatever new world he's found himself in, without much warning or time to adjust. The main character was barely fazed by being transported to a new world and was looking over account books and world history within an hour of arriving.

Heart Change by Robin D. Owens

Heart Change - Robin D. Owens
Content warning: Animals in peril, and one of the main characters has suicidal thoughts at the beginning of the book.
 
Signet D'Marigold believes she is doomed to be alone. Her parents died during her Third Passage, and none of her friends have ever stayed by her side or kept in touch for long. No one has ever been able to figure out what her Flair is, so she feels useless and lonely until the young prophet, Vinni T'Vine, tells her he's had a vision that her Flair can help his young brain-damaged HeartMate, Avellana Hazel, survive her First Passage.
 
Signet isn't the only person enlisted to help Avellana. Cratag Maytree, a personal guard for the T'Hawthorn Family, is hired to be Avellana's bodyguard. Cratag is secretly hurt to be hired out like this - he thought T'Hawthorn valued him more, and he'd prefer to be there for Laev Hawthorn's upcoming Passage. Still, he'll do as he's told, and he's certainly looking forward to spending time around Signet. He'd met her several times before and been attracted to her, but he's sure a beautiful and well-bred lady like her couldn't possibly feel the same about a man like him, a scarred outsider with little Flair.
 
The last time I read anything in this series was back in 2016: Heart Quest, which didn't hold up as well as I'd hoped but which is still one of my top favorites in the series, and Heart Dance, which I loathed. Rereading my review of Heart Dance reminded me of a lot of the things about Celtan society I've come to dislike, and I was glad that HeartGifts were barely mentioned in Heart Change.
 
I'd most recommend this book to people who are already fans of this series. Readers finally get a bit more progression in the Vinni and Avellana's storyline. I admit, I both enjoy this aspect of the series and am put off by it. In this book, Vinni is 13 and Avellana is 7. They're friends, but everyone knows they're also HeartMates - it makes me a bit uncomfortable that their lives are mapped out so early. Also, yes, this series does eventually work up to a book where Vinni and Avellana are both adults and stars of their own romance. Heart Change is as far as I've gotten, and I'm not entirely sure I want to work my way up to a romance novel starring characters I know best as children.
 
Anyway, in this book readers finally got to see Avellana make it past her first Passage and learn what her Flair is. However, there was of course a primary romance story, and that involved Signet and Cratag. I liked the basic setup: Signet, the lonely heroine who wanted someone in her life who wouldn't abandon her and who wasn't quite the ethereal and untouchable princess that Cratag imagined her to be, and Cratag, the rough fighter who secretly yearned for a place where he could belong and be needed. Cratag had previously been attracted to her from afar but hadn't thought those feeling would ever be mutual.
 
I figured he and Signet would spend some time awkwardly circling each other before flirting a bit and then eventually ending up in bed. Instead, they were kissing within a day or two of living in the same house together, and the only thing that kept them from falling into bed right away was Avellana. Luckily for them, Avellana liked schedules and could mostly be convinced to stay away long enough for a sex scene to happen.
 
I really wish the romance had been paced more slowly. As it was, it felt like they were all over each other way too soon considering they both had abandonment issues, and the story began to drag. Cratag's sudden withdrawal near the end didn't make much sense, and then the resolution happened way too quickly and easily.
 
The storyline with Laev wasn't much better. The way Laev's supposed HeartMate and her family acted should have been a giant red flag, but the whole HeartMate thing seems to destroy some characters' brains. I see that Laev is the hero of Book 10, Heart Search, and the thought of reading his story is only slightly less unpleasant to me than the thought of reading Tinne Holly's (the guy whose HeartMate was married to a much older and abusive man when she was a child).
 
I don't know that this is a series I'm ever going to finish. I think I can make it through the one other book I own that I haven't yet read, but I doubt I'll ever make it to Vinni and Avellana's book. The aspects of this series that used to work for me are starting to get overshadowed by the stuff that doesn't - the slight cheesiness (the Marigold family tap dances in order to enter their HouseHeart) and the way the world is set up (certain characters use HeartGifts in ways that qualify as sexual assault, divorce is difficult to obtain even though it's apparently easy for unethical people to trap people into horrible marriages). Even the cats are hit or miss, although I do still love the Residences (sentient homes run by AI). Heart Change's cats were among the good ones - Beadle was a clumsy sweetie, and Du wasn't quite as haughty as most of the series' other Fams and had a backstory that made me want to give him a hug.
 
One final comment: I don't know who the person on the cover is supposed to be, but he isn't Cratag. It's mentioned several times that Cratag's hair is shaved close to his skull, and I don't think that tattoo is accurate either. Also, I doubt Cratag would be stupid enough to hold weapons like that, even if he was repeatedly dumb enough to leave Avellana alone despite having been hired to be her bodyguard.
 
Extras:
 
A character list, which was helpful, and a map, which I never even glanced at.
 
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

Booklikesopoly Pandemic Edition: 6th roll

Books read for the game so far:

Ascendance of a Bookworm: Part 1 Vol. 3 - Miya Kazuki,Karuho Shiina,quof The Gamekeeper's Lady - Ann Lethbridge  The Accidental Demon Slayer - Angie Fox  The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 - Carlo Collodi,Emily Balistrieri,Kevin Steinbach  Heart Change - Robin D. Owens  

 

Bank: $37

 

1st roll: 1 + 3 = 4 (Ascendance of a Bookworm, Part 1, Vol. 3, 428 pages, $5)

2nd roll: 4 + 3 = 7 (The Gamekeeper's Lady, 283 pages, $3

3rd roll: 5 + 6 = 11 (The Accidental Demon Slayer, 292 pages, $3)

4th roll: 1 + 4 = 5 (The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1, 329 pages, $3)

5th roll: 2 + 4 = 6 (Heart Change by Robin D. Owens, 368 pages, $3)

6th roll: 5 + 1 = 6

 

I was on spot 30, so this puts me on spot 36, European Vacation - not quite far enough to pass Go and collect a little extra money. Darn. The requirements:

 

Read a book that involves travel to Europe, or that has an image of any European city or monument on the cover, or that the letters of the title can spell the name of any European city that I visited in my trip (Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, Geneva, Rome, Florence, Venice, and Barcelona).

 

Nice, that's broader than I thought when I first started reading the requirements. And OMG, it still won't let me read Martha Wells' Artificial Condition.

 

A lot of my Japanese light novels have long titles that almost certainly have all the letters necessary to spell at least one of these city names, so I may be going with one of those. Heart Change gave me enough of a break that I think I can handle it.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 368 out of 368 pages.

Heart Change - Robin D. Owens

Geez, Booklikes is working slowly for me tonight. Anyway, I finished this, so that's another $3 for me.

 

I'd recommend this to fans of the series because of the progression in the Vinni and Avellana storyline, but the romance between Signet and Cratag was weak. The pieces were there, but they didn't fit quite right. Also, this felt like it could have been shorter.

Reading progress update: I've read 188 out of 368 pages.

Heart Change - Robin D. Owens

As long as I don't think too hard about how fast the romance has progressed, I like it. Lonely heroine who thinks she's doomed to have everyone she loves leave her, hero who wants a place where he's needed and welcomed. But yeah, it really doesn't make sense that they've fallen all over each other so fast, even considering that they'd met a few times prior to this book. It only took maybe a day for the kissing and heated looks to start.

 

The non-romance storyline is nice because it ties in with an overarching series plotline that I'd thought Owens might save for the end of the series, although a quick Goodreads check indicates that it's going to take another 8 books for Vinni and Avellana to be old enough to star in their own book. I'm not sure how I feel about a romance novel starring characters that were first introduced in the series as children.

Reading progress update: I've read 64 out of 368 pages.

Heart Change - Robin D. Owens

Actual frequent on-page dialogue! It's a breath of fresh air after The Saga of Tanya the Evil.

 

That said, I've just been smacked in the face by one of the problems with this series, its unintentional cheese factor. Noble families have sentient homes, with the AI housed in a place known as the HouseHeart (edit: I just realized that some of this info might be wrong, since the HouseHeart has a female voice but the public area has a male voice, huh). They're protected rooms, so there are special ways to open them. The Marigold family HouseHeart can be accessed by...tap dancing. This is taken utterly seriously. There are traditional shoes, stored in a special cubby.

Non-book post: Knives Out is on Prime now!

It's apparently been on Prime for a little over a week now. I haven't been using my streaming services much lately and hadn't noticed. Anyway, I rewatched it, and it was just as enjoyable the second time around. I got to worry less about Marta and just pay attention to how all the pieces came together.

 

If you haven't seen it, I'd recommend it if you're into traditional mysteries. Two bits of warning: there's on-screen vomiting (the one during the Big Reveal is so gross I just shut my eyes during both my first and second viewing) and one scene in which a spider walks across a person's face.

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1: Deus lo Vult (book) by Carlo Zen, illustrations by Shinobu Shinotsuki, translated by Emily Balistrieri and Kevin Steinbach

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 - Carlo Collodi, Emily Balistrieri, Kevin Steinbach
Note: Due to the way this book handles religion and religious belief, devoutly religious people should probably approach it with caution.
 
The main character of this book used to be a Japanese salaryman (his name is never mentioned). Specifically, he worked in HR and did layoffs. One particularly upset person he'd just laid off pushed him in front of a train, landing the salaryman in front of Being X, aka God. Being X, annoyed at having to deal with yet another unbeliever, decides to put the salaryman in a position where he will be forced to believe in God. And so the salaryman is reborn in a new world, as an infant girl named Tanya. He retains his personality and memories of his former life but is forced to deal with the limitations of Tanya's body. At age 8 Tanya joins the military, and the book covers Tanya's time there from age 9 to 11, as she rises up in the ranks during the start of this world's first world war.
 
Tanya's new world is very similar to Germany just before World War I. In fact, the book begins with a map of Europe, labeled with new country names (except the United States, which is allowed to remain the same for some reason) - Tanya is a soldier for the Empire. Somehow, Tanya's interest in economics (and psychology and history?) and experience in Human Resources translate to "military genius" in this new world.
 
First, a note about pronouns and gender. The salaryman is male, and Tanya is female. The salaryman still thinks of himself as male, even in Tanya's body, but he is also fairly disconnected from Tanya, to the point that it shows in the writing. Although the bulk of the book is from the salaryman's perspective and he occasionally uses first-person pronouns, he often talks about Tanya in the third person, using feminine pronouns, as though she were a separate being. I couldn't find any rhyme or reason for when he'd use "I" vs. "she" - it seemed, at first, to be linked to whether he was talking about physical actions ("she") rather than purely thoughts ("I"), but that wasn't always the case. In the thick of battle, for example, the salaryman tended to use "I," even when describing actions he performed with Tanya's body.
 
Anyway, I bought this because reviews frequently described it as better written than most recent light novels. I'm not sure I'd agree. Yes, Zen clearly did a lot of research, and yes, certain scenes and passages were really good. But like many recent light novel authors, Zen didn't know how to do decent story pacing and got too bogged down in the nitty gritty details of favorite topics at the expense of story and characters. I was more tolerant of Zen's reliance on first-person POV, because it was occasionally fun seeing the disconnect between Tanya's perspective and how other characters perceived her and her actions, but in the latter half of the book it wasn't uncommon for me to not know whose perspective I was dealing with until several paragraphs or even a whole page or two into a scene. Characters' "voices" were just too similar.
 
Then there were the time skips. At two points, the story skipped forward in time about 30 or 40 years, for about 5 pages total. The first time this happened, it seemed to serve the same function as foreshadowing, hinting at something that would be happening soon in the main narrative but doing so via reporters in the future researching the war years after it was over. The second time skip, though...I don't know. Pretty much pointless.
 
I'm not a big military fiction reader, and I don't know much about the World Wars beyond vague memories of having to learn dates and events in high school. I'm not really the intended audience for this book. That said, I've enjoyed jargon-filled military fiction before. Even if I had trouble following the big picture strategies, this could have kept me hooked with its character interactions and individual battles. Unfortunately, I had trouble following the battles, and Zen seemed to want to avoid having characters talk to each other and interact outside of battle, so there wasn't as much human interaction as I might have liked either. It didn't help that the salaryman was an antisocial person who viewed people as objects, literal human resources for him to use as needed.
 
There were parts of this book that hooked me - I enjoyed the scene about the testing and eventual perfection of the Type 95 orb, which veered (unintentionally?) into black comedy, as well as Lergen and Zettour's perspectives on Tanya's actions and behavior and the salaryman's occasional flashes of cynical humor. But there wasn't enough of that, and the parts that I did enjoy could have been executed better.
 
I don't plan to continue this series and don't know that I'm even interested enough in it to watch the anime.
 
Extras:
  • A map of Europe labeled with all the new country names and coded according to their relationships with the Empire
  • A glossy folded sheet with large illustrations on both sides, which includes a timeline of Tanya's life up to age 9
  • A 6-page appendix that explains the interior and exterior lines strategies, with maps, and gives an outline of the history of the war up to the end of this book
  • An afterword by the author
  • Several black-and-white illustrations throughout
  • This may be the first light novel I've read with footnotes

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 368 pages.

Heart Change - Robin D. Owens

I chose this for my "author whose first or last name begins with a letter in LOVE" book. I was going to read Heart Journey but was checking the series order, and of the two books I own in this series that I haven't yet read, this one came first. Although the romances in these are self-contained, they do tend to reference lots of events and characters in previous books, so I figured it would be better to read them more in order.

 

That said, I'm flat out skipping Book 7, Heart Fate, the one with the 23-year-old guy and 17-year-old girl who was married to an abusive man when she was only 14. That's just a no from me.

 

Heart Change has been in my collection long enough to develop some sun damage from my terrible book storage practices. I don't recall ever being all that invested in this book's main characters when they were side characters in other books, so I'm guessing this will end up on my offload pile when I'm done.

Booklikesopoly Pandemic Edition: 5th roll

Books read for the game so far:

Ascendance of a Bookworm: Part 1 Vol. 3 - Miya Kazuki,Karuho Shiina,quof The Gamekeeper's Lady - Ann Lethbridge  The Accidental Demon Slayer - Angie Fox  The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 - Carlo Collodi,Emily Balistrieri,Kevin Steinbach  

 

Bank: $34

 

1st roll: 1 + 3 = 4 (Ascendance of a Bookworm, Part 1, Vol. 3, 428 pages, $5)

2nd roll: 4 + 3 = 7 (The Gamekeeper's Lady, 283 pages, $3

3rd roll: 5 + 6 = 11 (The Accidental Demon Slayer, 292 pages, $3)

4th roll: 1 + 4 = 5 (The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1, 329 pages, $3)

5th roll: 2 + 4 = 6 

 

I was on spot 25, so this puts me on spot 30, the Summer Romance.

 

Read a book with fruit or pastries on the cover or that was written by an author whose first or last name begins with any letter in LOVE.

 

Okay, this game is definitely messing with me. Once again, there's no way I can fit a Murderbot book into this.

 

It's quite possible that I have a book somewhere in my collection that fits the first requirement, but the second one is quicker and easier to work with, so I'll probably go with something that fits that.

 

I could do a reread (one of Fuyumi Ono's Twelve Kingdoms books) or something new. I'm leaning towards new. Some possibilities:

 

- Masquerade and the Nameless Women by Eiji Mikage

- The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

- One of Lois McMaster Bujould's Vorkosigan books (I've read a couple and enjoyed them)

- Sword Dancer by Jeannie Lin

- Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O'Keefe

 

And that's just the stuff I can see in the closest bookcase, without moving anything around.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 329 out of 329 pages.

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 - Carlo Collodi, Emily Balistrieri, Kevin Steinbach

I'm finished! I don't own the next book in this series, but that's okay, because I also have no desire to read it.

 

The thing I'm most happy about: I get to roll again. Yay! This book earned me $3 in Booklikesopoly.