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LG

Familiar Diversions

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

Currently reading

Manga Classics: Jane Eyre
Crystal Chan, Charlotte Brontë, SunNeko Lee
Progress: 312/318 pages
The Firm
John Grisham
Gorgeous Carat, Volume 01
You Higuri
Progress: 40/170 pages
Princess Prince
Tomoko Taniguchi
Progress: 310/336 pages
FREE: Locke & Key
Tatiana Maslany, Audible Studios, Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodríguez, Kate Mulgrew, Haley Joel Osment, Full Cast
Progress: 91/806 minutes

Booklikesopoly: Turn #8, mercifully uncomplicated

 

Bank: $53

Available wildcards: 2

 

Mia and the Forbidden Medicine Report was my "book with an article of clothing pictured on the cover." My next roll:

 

 

I've narrowly avoided visiting jail and ended up on Square 10. The requirement:

 

10. Read a book that appears on any beach reads list or a book whose author's first or last name begins with any letter in B-E-A-C-H.

 

Oh nice, something fairly broad. I think I'm going to go with the latter part of this. Now I just have to figure out what sort of book I'm in the mood to read. Some possibilities:

 

- So I'm a Spider, So What? Vol. 1 by Okina Baba: Do I want to risk another bad light novel? At least Yen On's editing seems to be decent compared to Cross Infinite World.

 

- Precursor by C.J. Cherryh: Although it may leave me with a desire to read the book after it, and I can't guarantee that the game will oblige me.

 

- Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan

 

- Fire by Kristin Cashore

 

Eh, I'll have to think about it. I think I might be in the mood for a mystery. Maybe it's time for book 3 in Rosie Claverton's Amy Lane series? Or something by Agatha Christie?

Reading progress update: I've read 187 out of 187 pages.

Mia and the Forbidden Medicine Report - Fumi Yamamoto, Nitaka, Charis Messier

Oh happy day, I'm finally done with this!

 

It's solidly a 1-star read. And while I'm happy to have found a publisher of English language translations of light novels that doesn't put DRM on their e-books, the translation and editing quality of this particular work makes me wary about diving in and buying more of their stuff.

 

Well, I've more than earned my $2, and now I get to do another Booklikesopoly roll.

Reading progress update: I've read 156 out of 187 pages.

Mia and the Forbidden Medicine Report - Fumi Yamamoto, Nitaka, Charis Messier

"'I was being hard on your topic because I wanted you to make something you could win with. I try to support passionate students and help them succeed, you see.'

 

Mia was astonished to learn how Professor Rueger felt for the first time. He hadn't been trying to bully them? Guilt and shame hit her. Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry for calling you a wall and other bad things!"

 

Dear students, when your professor repeatedly tells you your topic is too broad, they really aren't trying to be mean to you.

 

OMG, at least 60% of this book was devoted to that stupid research report. And most of that was just choosing the topic. Was the author traumatized by a past research paper topic proposal assignment?

 

Also, the worst thing she could think to call him was a wall? lol

Reading progress update: I've read 82 out of 187 pages.

Mia and the Forbidden Medicine Report - Fumi Yamamoto, Nitaka, Charis Messier

Oh, guys. Mia spent, like, 10-15 pages trying to narrow her research topic down, supposedly writing and rewriting it. I really think she was just figuring out different ways to restate it, because her research topic epiphany resulted in this:

 

Research topic: A cure for The cause of Demon Claw

 

Her professor looked at her and was all "...Okay. You still have no access to the disease or to patients suffering from it. How do you plan to study it?"

 

Something Horrible has happened (that reminds me strongly of one of the Harry Potter novels), so maybe I won't have to read about Mia's research topic woes for a while.

Reading progress update: I've read 68 out of 187 pages.

Mia and the Forbidden Medicine Report - Fumi Yamamoto, Nitaka, Charis Messier

Oh man. Reading about Mia's research topic creation efforts feels a little like being at work.

 

Mia's topic for the big research project everyone is required to do: "A cure for Demon Claw."

 

Her professor: "You think you can create a cure for Demon Claw? Your topic is too broad and implausible. What you children can accomplish is severely limited. It'll take you a year at best to even reach the research results of your predecessors. How are you going to accomplish anything in your remaining three years?" (64)

 

 

Like, do you have any ideas where you're going to start? Does Demon Claw always present the same way? Do certain conditions have an effect on its severity? What is it about Demon Claw that causes it to be transmitted via touch? Demon Claw and Angel Tears (another disease - this world seems to only have two diseases total) appeared at about the same time - do they have any similarities?

 

There's a reason why some people spend their whole lives researching cures for particular diseases, but this girl has decided that she's going to find a cure during her next few years at school. No plan, just sheer determination.

Reading progress update: I've read 58 out of 187 pages.

Mia and the Forbidden Medicine Report - Fumi Yamamoto, Nitaka, Charis Messier

The disease Demon Claw is highly contagious, spread by touch, and incurable. As a result, everyone, even Medical and Pharmacology students and professors, freaks out at the very mention of it. One person even asked why anyone would want to cure it. I'm just shaking my head. If there's a horrible disease that has no cure or treatment, why wouldn't you want to find a cure for it? I don't doubt that only a few would want to personally be involved in finding a cure, but surely medical students and professors would at least see the need for the work and research?

Reading progress update: I've read 30 out of 187 pages.

Mia and the Forbidden Medicine Report - Fumi Yamamoto, Nitaka, Charis Messier

Mia helped a law student named Felix through a panic attack, and now he's in love with her but too manly to realize it. Okay, I'm joking a little - the word manly was used twice on a single page and I wanted to fit it in somehow - but it's true that he can't seem to recognize his own emotions. "She left and now I feel cold. What is this feeling? Do I want to be friends with her like I am with Matthias? But my feelings for her are definitely different..." That sort of thing. Meanwhile, Matthias is all "This is going to be annoying."

 

The dialogue is weird. So far, everyone seems to speak casually ("We're goin' into politics," "All you gotta do," etc.), including the professors.

Less Than Three Press is shutting down

According to my records, I've read five of Less Than Three Press's works. One was absolutely terrible, most were so-so, and one I genuinely enjoyed despite feeling that it was too short for what the author was trying to do.

 

One of the primary reasons I'll miss Less Than Three Press is that it doesn't treat LGBT+ as a single category - if you want to see which of their works have trans characters, or ace characters, or lesbian characters, their site has those categories broken out. The only similar small press I know of that does this is Ninestar Press, which has a site that's a little annoying to navigate but which does an even better job of sorting their works into useful categories.

Reading progress update: I've read 312 out of 318 pages.

Manga Classics: Jane Eyre - Crystal Chan, Charlotte Brontë, SunNeko Lee

This is an excellent adaptation overall, although it didn't magically cure my dislike of some of the aspects of the original.

 

I'm essentially finished - these last few pages are background notes about the author, the book, and what being a governess was like, as well as a note from Crystal S. Chan about some choices she made when adapting the work. I especially like Chan's comments - she talks about slight changes she made to improve the pacing of the manga (borrowing dialogue from a later chapter of the book to make the manga flow better, for example), as well as a few of her and SunNeko Lee's fun little touches (Chan worked cats in whenever the original novel gave her the opportunity to do so, knowing that Lee liked drawing them, and Lee used Chan and her husband as inspiration for a couple details in Jane and Rochester's character designs).

Reading progress update: I've read 279 out of 318 pages.

Manga Classics: Jane Eyre - Crystal Chan, Charlotte Brontë, SunNeko Lee

St. John: "Do not forget that if you reject it, it is not me you deny, but God."

 

Ugh, all the men Jane meets are awful.

Reading progress update: I've read 219 out of 318 pages.

Manga Classics: Jane Eyre - Crystal Chan, Charlotte Brontë, SunNeko Lee

I forgot my Booklikesopoly book at work, which is annoying, especially since I never even got a chance to read any of it during lunch. If I go out and run another errand tonight, I might go get it on my way home.

 

In the meantime, I have this. Excellent use of manga visual conventions right here:

 

 

He's smiling and has a calm expression, but the little manga sweatdrop lets readers know there's some anxiety/discomfort there. Sure, yes, we totally believe you when you say it was Grace Poole in Jane's room.

Reading progress update: I've read 17 out of 187 pages.

Mia and the Forbidden Medicine Report - Fumi Yamamoto, Nitaka, Charis Messier

"An outbreak of not one, but two strange diseases have plagued the Kingdom of Isea." (9)

 

This is the book's very first sentence. Should that be "has" rather than "have"? And I think there might be issues with the comma as well, but I'm even less sure about that.

 

"'You're a new student by all accounts,' Felix mutteredas he gazed up at the Royal Academy dorm from the front quad." (17)

 

 

That "mutteredas" isn't my typo - it's in the text.

 

This is my first experience with this publisher, Cross Infinite World. So far, the editing seems like it could use a little work, and I really wish the pages weren't so dense. I know this says it's 187 pages, but I think it would have been a more comfortable read at 200+ pages, with a bit more white space here and there.

 

This starts off by introducing Mia, an awkward country girl who's just registered as a Pharmacology student, the least prestigious of the four schools at Royal Academy. Readers have also been introduced to at least one of the guys on the cover and have gotten a quick rundown on what the tie colors mean. Green = Pharmacology (least prestigious), purple = Law (most prestigious, attracts lots of folks from noble families), red = Magic (close to Law in terms of how it's viewed, since you can't get in unless you have natural magical talent), and blue = Medicine (tougher to get into than Pharmacology, but still viewed as little more than a supporting school for Magic).

Scavenger Hunt by Christopher Pike

Scavenger Hunt - Christopher Pike

This book begins with a cryptic scene of a young man running from something, possibly either a demon or a cult. He takes refuge in a church, where he tells the priest his story. Then the book switches over to Carl, a young man living in a nearly dead desert town. His best friend Joe was killed in a freak flood nearly a year ago, and he's basically just been existing since then. The only reason he's at all excited about the scavenger hunt that's about to begin is because Cessy, a sexy newcomer, has asked him to be on her team.

Tracie would have liked to have had Carl on her team, but unfortunately Cessy managed to ask him first. Tracie has had a crush on Carl for a while, but she's shy, and then Joe's death happened, and she and Carl just sort of drifted apart. The scavenger hunt at least gives them one last chance to interact before she leaves for college, although some of their team members make things awkward.

Carl's team consists of Cessy, her brother Davey, and Tom (Carl's brain-injured former football player friend). Tracie's team consists of Paula (Joe's girlfriend, who's been angry since his death), and Rick (Paula's genius younger brother, who's in a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy). Both teams get off to a strong start, but it isn't long before they become aware that there's something odd about this scavenger hunt.

This is technically another one of my nostalgia reads, but only insofar as it's another book by Christopher Pike. I honestly don't think I read this when I was a teen. I'm pretty sure I would have remembered at least some of the stuff at the end.

I figured out one of the book's twists only 40 or so pages in. I thought I had the rest of it figured out by the halfway point, but, as usual, Pike just kept on making things weirder. I can't even say it was the good kind of weird. It was like Pike pulled a few nouns out of a hat and crammed them into one big plot twist.

Lizards, gold mining, acid (the burning kind, not the drug kind), and dead people.

(show spoiler)


I hated how things turned out with

Rick - it felt like a form of euthanasia, a way for Pike to avoid having to deal with Rick's medical prognosis and the horrors of the American medical insurance system.

(show spoiler)

And the scene with the dog was awful, even though it happened off-page.

All in all, this definitely wasn't Pike's best work. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that I did read this when I was a teen, but just forgot about it.

 

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

Defeating the Demon Lord's a Cinch (If You've Got a Ringer), Vol. 1 (book) by Tsukikage, illustrated by bob, translated by Alex Kerwin

Defeating the Demon Lord's a Cinch If You've Got a Ringer, Vol. 1 - Ken Tsukikage, Bob

Note: Don't read the character data section at the end of the book until you've finished the novel. There are at least a couple major spoilers.

Naotsugu Toudou is a hero summoned from another world (more than likely ours) to defeat the Demon Lord Kranos. Only the hero has the necessary divine protection required to defeat the Demon Lord, but others may accompany and aid him. All heroes start off at the lowest level and have to work their way up from there. Theoretically, the hero's party members should all be high level, but this party is...different.

Limis Al Friedia is a Level 10 elemental mage who can only use fire magic, even though all elemental mages are supposed to be able to use two different elements. Aria Rizas is a Level 20 swordmaster who recently switched to a completely different school of swordsmanship. Also, even though higher level techniques require at least a little magic, Aria has absolutely no magical ability. (It isn't until nearly the end of the book that readers are finally told that the maximum level for humans is probably 100. I don't consider this to be a spoiler, so I'm mentioning it here for context.)

Ares Crown, the priest assigned to be the group's healer, is the only one with any battle experience. In fact, his level is so high that he worries the rest of the group might use him as a crutch, so he lies and says his level is only 3, the last digit of his true level. He somehow has to get everyone in the party leveled up as soon as possible and keep Nao alive long enough to defeat the Demon Lord, no easy task considering that Nao soon becomes convinced that Ares' assistance is unnecessary.

In terms of flow and general readability this was one of the better light novels I've tried. I never got bored or bogged down by the writing. The battle scenes were relatively easy to follow, and I blew through the whole book much faster than I expected I would. I enjoyed Ares' crankiness, and his "keep moving forward and make the best of the crappy hand you've been dealt" attitude really worked for me.

That said, this book missed the mark in a lot of important ways. For starters, the cover art/title led me to believe that this was going to be a bit lighter and more ridiculous than it actually was. I figured that Ares would be the put-upon healer constantly saving his party members from certain death while the idiots kept obliviously charging forward. There was a little of that, but the brutality and bloodshed kept it from being the light read I expected.

At one point, Ares stumbled upon the aftermath of a fight in a tavern. An aggressive mercenary had freaked Nao out, and, as a result, Nao accidentally maimed nearly everyone in the building. Nao then ran off, basically leaving everyone to die, and only Limis knew that Ares then healed everyone and hushed the whole thing up. This incident was never mentioned again and seemed to make zero impact on Nao. In fact, a short while later, Nao came across a seriously injured monster (secretly injured by Ares, who was hoping Nao would kill it and thereby manage to level up a bit more) and, horrified, said that whoever had hurt it so badly and left it like that must be a monster. There were multiple times in the book where Ares wondered whether Nao was unstable, and I have to say that I wondered that myself. This particular volume provided no answers.

Ares was not a nice guy, and he definitely wasn't a devout priest, but he was absolutely a professional. He did his job, no matter how much the people around him pissed him off. The book included several brutal multi-page scenes in which he beat up and/or maimed monsters and demons, including a monster that looked like a little girl, in an effort to aid Nao or obtain more information (the violence is of the bone-crunching variety, but there is thankfully not much in the way of "gory squishy bits" descriptions). As ruthless as he was, I still preferred him to Nao. It really bothered me that Nao seemed unaffected by the fight at the tavern, and Ares' experience and practicality worked better for me than Nao's boneheadedness.

There were some POV issues. The bulk of the book was first person present tense POV from Ares' perspective, and the author was clearly most comfortable with this. Unfortunately, this resulted in a story that was mostly Ares running around and reacting to things. After a certain point, he was cut off from Nao's party and reduced to guessing where they might go next and what they might do. He was also in the dark as far as the Church went - Cardinal Creio kept saying that the Church had its reasons for assigning Ares to this job, and Ares just had to keep doing his best despite everything. His POV also put limitations on the things readers got to learn about the other characters. Ares wasn't the sort of person who made friends, and he really didn't care about anyone around him, beyond what their level of usefulness might be in battle. I had a better idea of most of the female characters' breast sizes than their personalities.

And speaking of breasts... I think the only female character whose breasts weren't described was maybe the one female mercenary. For a guy who seemed to care more about work than about romance or sex, Ares sure noticed breasts a lot. The breast thing irked me but was mostly ignorable, until the end, when it was revealed that leveling up could affect at least one character's breast size. Yes, the author wrote magically growing breasts into this world. ::sigh::

The overall world was painfully generic, the breast thing was annoying, and there was more bone-crunching violence than I expected. Still, there were some intriguing aspects that might prompt me to at least read the next volume. There are indications that Nao might morph into a more interesting and difficult-to-handle villain than the Demon Lord. There were brief mentions of Ares' workaholic tendencies being his biggest weakness - he isn't good at or used to delegating work, and he uses holy energy on himself to keep himself going past the normal limits of human endurance. This particular volume didn't really demonstrate the drawbacks of his way of operating, and I'm hoping that future volumes do a better job of digging into this some more. Volume 4's cover art features most of the female cast in bikinis, though, so that isn't very encouraging.

Extras:

  • Character data for most of the book's prominent characters. The only information not included that I would have liked to see was character ages. There was a bit on page 30 that seemed to indicate that Ares was only 18 years old, and that can't possibly be right.
  • An afterword written by the author.
  • Several black-and-white illustrations throughout. 
  • A couple color illustrations on a folded sheet at the beginning of the book. The illustrator seems to have forgotten that Amelia's hair is supposed to be blue.

 

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

Booklikesopoly: Turn #7, which just keeps going on and on

 

Bank: $46

Available wildcards: 1

 

I finished up Defeating the Demon Lord's a Cinch for Square 15 (it fit the requirements because the cover has trees in the background). My next roll:

 

 

Which puts me on Free Parking. Time to consult the rules again:

 

Roll 2 dice.

A 2 or a 3, sends you to the robot;
4, 5, or 6, go to the race car;
7,8 or 9, go to the Scottie dog;
10, 11, or 12 takes you to the cat

 

Oh, nice, a spot that can only result in good things.

 

 

Rolling an 11 puts me on the Cat for the second time in the game. And since it's a novelty square, that means I collect yet another wildcard (resulting in 2 total on reserve) and roll again to see what my reading square is going to be.

 

 

Rolling another 11 means my final stopping point is the BL square. Which means checking the rules again.

 

You will spin the Wheel Decide

 

All right then.

 

 

LOL. I'm going to be rolling dice forever. Ok, let's see where this roll takes me:

 

 

Rolling a 10 means that I pass GO and collect $5 from that and then land on Square 4. I didn't plan my colors out very well, so I switched to purple for this last mark. The requirements for this square:

 

4. Read a book that was published during the months of May, June or July, or that contains an item that would be used as a school supply or an article of clothing or an accessory pictured on the cover.

 

The first part is a little tough to search for in my collection, but the second part is easy. I have many books with accessories and/or clothed human beings on the cover. The only problem will be picking one. I may go with another one of my Japanese light novels, Mia and the Forbidden Medicine Report.

Reading progress update: I've read 295 out of 295 pages.

Defeating the Demon Lord's a Cinch If You've Got a Ringer, Vol. 1 - Ken Tsukikage, Bob

BREASTS ARE NOT BALLOONS. The fact that the author wrote this whole magically growing breasts thing into the story makes me want to reach across an entire freaking ocean and smack him upside the head.

 

In terms of flow and general readability, this is actually one of the better light novels I've tried, and I appreciate that Ares, the series' super-powered character, is by definition incapable of defeating the demon lord. Yes, he can defeat nearly everything else without breaking a sweat, but if the world is to be saved, Nao is going to have to be the one to do it.

 

But dang, this book misses the mark in some important ways. I honestly don't know how the author wants readers to feel about Nao, or some of Ares' moments of brutality. And while the note about Ares needing to practice better self-care was nice, there wasn't any on-page evidence that his way of doing things had any sort of drawbacks. And then there's the breast thing. I could tell you more about most of the female characters' breasts than I could about their lives and personalities. Aria has huge breasts, which is "funny" because she's also a tomboy. Limis is flat-chested. Amelia has decent-sized breasts that look bigger than they actually are because she's so delicate. And then of course there's the inflatable breasts.

 

Well. That's $3 and another Booklikesopoly roll for me.