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Familiar Diversions

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

Currently reading

Princess Prince
Tomoko Taniguchi
Progress: 310/336 pages
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness
Peter Godfrey-Smith
Progress: 41/255 pages
A Rational Arrangement
Rowyn Ashby
Progress: 89/537 pages
FREE: Locke & Key
Tatiana Maslany, Audible Studios, Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodríguez, Kate Mulgrew, Haley Joel Osment, Full Cast
Progress: 91/806 minutes
The Kneebone Boy
Ellen Potter
Progress: 218/280 pages
"I came here to kindly let you know! Alright. I am preparing a GINORMOUS revenge scheme! You should be nervous."

This is from Mystic Messenger, a visual novel (?) and not a book, but I figured I'd share because it made me laugh. I'm not sure how old this person is (at least 17, I think), but she talks like a pouting kid.

Reading progress update: I've read 218 out of 280 pages.

The Kneebone Boy - Ellen Potter

This is not the sort of book I thought it'd be when I first started reading. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends on what happened when the kids' mother disappeared, what Otto knows that he doesn't realize he knows, etc.


And the narrator is definitely Lucia. The author has been consistent about only having the narrator describe Lucia's thoughts. I'm still not sure why the author decided to write this book as though it were a story told by Lucia in the third person.

4 hours and 17 minutes in

The Fold: A Novel - Peter Clines

I'm having trouble with searches on Booklikes right now, so the best I could do was link this post to another edition of The Fold.


"If something went wrong, then it's been going wrong every single time we've used the Door and nobody ever noticed anything."

Someone has died, and now everybody is scrambling to figure out why this has happened now, when the previous hundreds of tests went perfectly fine. In some ways this has been better the second time around than it was the first, although I think I still prefer 14. Certain lines keep jumping out at me.

Olaf and his complaints about the "prank," Arthur and his wedding anniversary, Jamie's explanation of what Johnny does.

(show spoiler)

Reading progress update: I've read 89 out of 537 pages.

A Rational Arrangement - Rowyn Ashby

I'm still reading this, I just haven't sat down with my e-reader for long stretches of time in a while.


So, I knew going in that this would feature a poly relationship, but I didn't know the specifics. I still don't 100% know the specifics, but here's how things seem to be shaping up:


Nik's family is aristocratic but suffering from money problems, and they're trying to fix that by marrying Nik off to a wealthy young woman. One of their top choices happens to be Wisteria. Wisteria is already resigned to the idea that she'll end up in a loveless marriage. Bare minimum, she'd at least like it to be an honest one, and she'd like to occasionally have sex with a willing partner. The marriage contract she wrote up lays out the possibility for her and/or her husband to have lovers, as long as everybody is discreet and she and her husband are honest about it with each other.


Wisteria doesn't have a lover in mind for herself. However, Nik already has a secret lover: Lord Justin Comfrey. Their relationship has to be a secret because same sex relationships are more than frowned upon by society. Justin really wants to help Nik with his money problems, but Nik finds that idea, combined with their sexual relationship, to be distasteful.


At this point, it looks like Nik might end up marrying Wisteria because of familial pressure and because he also kind of likes her as a person. He and Wisteria will arrange things so he gets to continue his relationship with Justin. What I'm not sure about is how things are going to go with Wisteria. She's attracted to Nik, but so far he isn't attracted to her. Maybe that will change?

Reading progress update: I've read 310 out of 336 pages.

Princess Prince - Tomoko Taniguchi

There's an artist named Bob with short curly hair. He's painting Lori and Matthew's portrait. Guys, I think Bob Ross has a cameo in this manga.

Reading progress update: I've read 290 out of 336 pages.

Princess Prince - Tomoko Taniguchi

This still ranges from mediocre to "oh no." Right now I'm reading a mediocre story that I don't think has anything at all to do with Princess Prince. Bandits kill all the adults in a town, but surprisingly none of the children. One of the children finds an enchanted sword and kills all the bandits. He's now older and has been invited to the castle.


One particular lady is interested in him, but he only has eyes for his sword:


I may not be much of a fan of Princess Prince, but my cat loves it. She's rolling on it like it's made out of catnip (except she's one of those rare weird cats that doesn't react to catnip).


I just found out I get the day off from work tomorrow due to weather. One more day to sit around, read, and maybe squeeze out a few reviews. :-D

Reading progress update: I've read 236 out of 336 pages.

Princess Prince - Tomoko Taniguchi

Guessing on the page number.


This turns out to be a collection of short but mostly related stories. So far it has touched on issues of gender, sexuality, and racism, but all in a superficial way. Brandon loving Matthew is just an ongoing joke, it looks like Lawrence's secret love for Jenny is never going to be resolved, and I cringed during the part where Matthew fell in love with Janice, a girl with dark skin. Janice

came to the kingdom of Gemstone hoping to bathe in water that would lighten her skin and thereby make her beautiful. D-:  Matthew and Janice's romance doesn't work out because Gemstone turns out to be horribly racist, so Janice leaves to find her mother's people.

(show spoiler)


Oh, and Matthew and Lawrence's father is gross. He's forgotten that he's the one who ordered Lawrence to be raised as Lori. His wife died in childbirth, so he picked the baby that looked most like her and had him raised as a girl. Now he dresses "Lori" up to look just like his wife, and I'm so creeped out.

Reading progress update: I've read 25 out of 336 pages.

Princess Prince - Tomoko Taniguchi

I've set my expectations low, and it's pretty much meeting them. It's ridiculous and never takes the time to stop and breathe, but it at least has a sense of humor. I've only learned a tiny bit more than what was revealed in the character profiles - the "Angel Bird" thing makes a little more sense now, sort of.


Depending on what page you're on, this either looks like a sugary sweet lesbian romance or a trans allegory.


Some pics (this was flipped, so panels and speech bubbles read from left to right):



This reminds me of all the "why don't women just say 'no'" convos. Guy wants girl to "just" accept flowers (never mind that he'd probably hound her forever if she did). When she bluntly tells him "no," he's upset about her being so blunt.



I'm pretty sure Jenny is a lesbian and would be perfectly happy if Lori asked her out.



It took all of a few pages for Brandon to decide that Prince Matthew was really a girl, admit that he's really a thief sent to steal from Matthew's kingdom, and declare that he's switched sides and is now loyal to Matthew. Prince Matthew is happy to string him along.

Reading progress update: I've read 3 out of 336 pages.

Princess Prince - Tomoko Taniguchi

This starts with four pages of character profiles. The first couple pages:

"PRINCE MATTHEW is Prince Lawrence's twin brother. A handsome man, he loves to tease the ladies of the kingdom, especially Princess Lori.


PRINCE LAWRENCE was raised all of his life as Princess Lori. This doesn't change the fact that he is a young man. He has a crush on Jenny Nelson but is afraid to reveal his true feelings because of the scandal it would cause throughout the kingdom.


BRANDON WALSH is a dashing young thief disguised as a prince. He came to steal the gems of the Gemstone kingdom, but instead fell in love with Prince Matthew... He thinks that Matthew is a girl!


JENNY NELSON is the love of Prince Lawrence's life...but she has no clue that Princess Lori is a young man.


EMMA is the daughter of the Angel Bird that made the prophecy to the King so long ago. She's forever trying to keep Lori from telling the truth about her situation.


THE KING is a mournful and confused monarch. After years deluding himself that Prince Laurence is actually Princess Lori, he has forgotten where the lines of reality lie."

OMG, guys. As far as I can tell, this is a one-shot. It's going to try to handle all of this in one volume. And there are six more characters listed after this. There's an enchanted sword, and a princess with a secret, and another character in love with someone who happens to be in love with someone else. Oh, and that last "Laurence" spelling is really what the text says, so I'm already anticipating a mixture of Lawrence/Laurence throughout the volume.

Cookies from the first batch
Cookies from the first batch

Takeaways from the first and second baking sheets worth of cookies:


- "Cut rectangle into 1/8-inch slices." I want to ask whoever wrote this recipe to make it and then show me how they accomplished this, because when I tried to cut the dough it crumbled into irregular chunks and powder. I opted to treat them like those shortbread cookies I made years ago: I gathered the chunks and powder up and pressed them into a simple cookie cutter with a spoon. (ETA: And it turns out that this entire issue was probably because I misread the first step, multiple times, and added the flour too soon. Ugh.)


- The first batch (the pictured cookies) went into for 5 minutes because my oven normally burns stuff if I use even the minimum amount of time on a recipe. The second batch went in for 7 minutes and was only slightly darker and not much sturdier. I'm going to try 8 minutes with the next batch.


- The recipe really means it when it says you need to wait 1-2 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. They're not solid at all when they come out of the oven. They're not even all that sturdy after 2 minutes. I transferred them very carefully.


- I've used half the dough so far and got 22 cookies. I used a round cookie cutter, maybe 1.5 inches in diameter. Some cookies came out of the oven as perfect circles and some just went blorp.


- They're tasty. Like chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate - not surprising considering the ingredients.


I've made refrigerator cookies before using a recipe from an ancient Betty Crocker cookbook. They were relatively easy (in the opinion of someone who hates baking cookies) and cut beautifully. These were not at all like those cookies. I managed to make them work, but I don't think I'll be making them again in the future. They may be tasty, but not enough to make up for their annoying dough.


ETA: And Lora just helped me see where I messed this one up - I added the flour too soon. ::sigh::

Attempting to bake cookies...

I used to bake something every week or two. For some reason (I think because I was sick for a few months?), I stopped doing that. For the past few years, the only times I've baked anything were when I needed something for a potluck at work. I don't cook much, either.


I'm trying to get back into making stuff in the kitchen again. Last weekend, it was potato soup (I put it in containers and froze it before taking pics - sorry!). This weekend I'm trying cookies. I went with this recipe, which I've never used before. The resulting dough was seriously powdery, to the point that I double and triple checked the recipe to make sure I hadn't don't anything wrong. The last time I dealt with dough this powdery, I was making shortbread cookies. I pressed everything together as best I could and it's sitting in the fridge right now. If they actually result in cookies, no matter how bizarrely shaped, I'll take pictures and show them off.

Reading progress update: I've read 62 out of 280 pages.

The Kneebone Boy - Ellen Potter

Oh dear. The Hardscrabble kids were sent to London to stay with a relative while their father went who-knows-where, only it turns out that the person he talked to was really a pet sitter who couldn't hear properly over the sound of the dog barking. The relative is on vacation in Germany, the kids missed the last train back to their town, and now they have nowhere to sleep. One of the kids suggested talking to the police (probably the best idea, at this point), but another one of the kids dismissed that idea. So now they're walking around, and Otto (the eldest at age 13) just got hit on by someone.


I'm not sure how I feel about this book. The narration is odd. It tries very hard to be quirky, with lots of mentions of random former royalty that the kids' dad met. Supposedly the narrator is one of the Hardscrabble children. He or she described Lucia's thoughts a few pages ago, so either the narrator is Lucia or the narrator is describing things he/she couldn't possibly know.

Reading progress update: I've read 508 out of 508 pages.

Tiffany Girl: A Novel - Deeanne Gist

Done! I also read the author's note at the end - Gist always includes lots of information about historical details she included that were true, things she completely made up, and details she fudged. She fudged quite a few things this time around, but I loved reading about the stuff that was true. Well, except for the one very sad story about the one Tiffany Girl who committed suicide shortly after leaving to go marry her fiance. It turned out that he'd never had any intention of marrying her at all. :-(


I'm going to have to think about my rating. When I started reading, I was worried about the length - I figured it'd take me weeks to finish it. Instead, it turned out to be so engaging that I kept coming back to it and reading large chunks at a time. My main issue with it is that Flossie and Reeve spend a lot of time apart later on in the story. They need to, in order to grow, heal, and figure things out. But I missed getting to see them together, and then things moved really fast (page count-wise) when they finally made up.

Reading progress update: I've read 429 out of 508 pages.

Tiffany Girl: A Novel - Deeanne Gist

I'm thinking about Ariel Tachna's horrible Alliance in Blood right now. This book has something (okay, a lot of things) that that one lacked: well-developed relationships between the main characters and people who are not their love interests. This scene between Reeve and Mrs. Dinwiddie is lovely.