171 Following

Familiar Diversions

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

Currently reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World
Abigail Revasch, Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, Tara Sands, Listening Library
Progress: 67/473 minutes
The Mystic Marriage
Heather Rose Jones
Progress: 302/426 pages
Ichi-F: A Worker's Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant
Kazuto Tatsuta
Progress: 58/553 pages
The Naked Sun
Isaac Asimov
Progress: 20/187 pages
50 Girls 50 and Other Stories
Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta, Gary Groth
Jennifer Foehner Wells
Progress: 58/367 pages
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: A Novel
Becky Chambers
Progress: 148/441 pages
The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas, Bill Homewood, Naxos AudioBooks
Progress: 667/3165 minutes
A Matter of Oaths
Helen S. Wright
Progress: 101/277 pages
Medical School for Everyone: Grand Rounds Cases
Professor Roy Benaroch, The Great Courses, The Great Courses
Progress: 34/725 minutes

Storybundle: Artificial Intelligence (!!!)

I haven't looked at it yet, so for all I know nothing in it will appeal. But I'll be looking at it more closely later, just in case! As far as I know, I've never read any of the authors included in the bundle, although I've at least heard of a few of them.


ETA - Whoops, not quite accurate. I've read William Gibson before, and one of his works is included in one of the anthologies.

Reading progress update: I've listened 58 out of 473 minutes.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World - Abigail Revasch, Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, Tara Sands, Listening Library

"I'm sure Tony Stark is a very nice man who is just confused about facial hair trends."


Doreen and her new squirrel friend are discussing the Avengers, and Tony Stark isn't faring well. The squirrel also referred to him as Garbage Can Man.


This is all part of a discussion about which one of the Avengers would be the best at picking up garbage. The squirrel thinks Iron Man would be best (because he flies around in a garbage can), or maybe Daredevil. Doreen thinks Captain America would be best.

Reading progress update: I've listened 25 out of 473 minutes.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World - Abigail Revasch, Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, Tara Sands, Listening Library

19 minutes in:

"When she didn't know what to say, she defaulted to extreme friendliness."


And now:

"At moments like this, she briefly considered giving up on optimism. Expecting the worst sounded so much easier than demanding wonderfulness from life. But no, she would not be defeated."


I tend to be a pessimist, but I like Doreen's attitude anyway.

Reading progress update: I've listened to 1 out of 473 minutes.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World - Abigail Revasch, Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, Tara Sands, Listening Library

I used up all my Audible credits and cancelled my membership, because I've been listening to a lot of library audiobooks lately and I'm horribly behind on my Audible stuff. I'll start up my membership again once I've made it through a big enough chunk of my backlog.


Okay, so everything I know about Squirrel Girl I learned from reading reviews of the comics here on Booklikes. We'll see how well this book works for me. The excerpt sounded fun.

This day has started with me having to call 911 for someone I know (a friend). She'll be fine, probably, but I'm exhausted. I'll be visiting the hospital in a few hours.


Feel free to recommend me sweet/fluffy/funny things I could watch via Netflix or Amazon Prime after work. I basically want the TV equivalent of a warm, fuzzy blanket, and watching Big Windup! for the fourth (fifth?) time this year seems like a bit much.


Or, hey, links to Youtube videos of cute/funny animals would also be nice. Give me good things.

Reading progress update: I've read 302 out of 426 pages.

The Mystic Marriage - Heather Rose Jones

Jeanne and Antuniet's romance makes me anxious. As much as I enjoy the two of them as individuals and want to root for them as a couple, it feels like there's a very basic mismatch.


Antuniet can devote herself to her research and experiments for hours on end. Jeanne is a social butterfly who thrives on interaction. Antuniet doesn't feel like she has much of a safety net (not quite true, but close enough that her fears aren't unfounded), and so the slightest possibility of gossip terrifies her. Jeanne doesn't mind a certain level of gossip and, in fact, has figured out how to benefit from a slightly scandalous public image. Antuniet is more reserved, while Jeanne is more openly affectionate.


I keep expecting one or the other of them to decide this just isn't working anymore. :-/

Reading progress update: I've read 174 out of 426 pages.

The Mystic Marriage - Heather Rose Jones

For some reason, both this book and Daughter of Mystery have me mentally comparing at least one character to "types" in anime. It's weird, because it isn't like I've even been watching much anime lately - just Haikyu!! a few weeks ago and yet another rewatch of Big Windup! (which seems to have become my #1 comfort anime for this year).


In Daughter of Mystery, Barbara was the "cool girl" type you sometimes see in high school comedies, the one that at least one of the other female characters has a crush on. I kept thinking of Azumanga Daioh's Sakaki, or at least the Sakaki that Kaorin saw.


In The Mystic Marriage, Jeanne is the enormous flirt who looks all light and sparkly on the surface but is secretly vulnerable underneath. Maybe Tamaki from Ouran High School Host Club, except he's kind of an idiot and Jeanne definitely isn't.

Reading progress update: I've read 137 out of 426 pages.

The Mystic Marriage - Heather Rose Jones

I think I might end up liking this book more than the first one, although there's still plenty of time for things to happen that could change my mind.


The plot is technically more complicated this time around, with more on-page players and story threads. While Daughter of Mystery was definitely historical fantasy with romantic elements (rather than historical fantasy romance), The Mystic Marriage has even less emphasis on romance. Jeanne finds herself drawn to Antuniet's passion for alchemy, and Antuniet wonders at Jeanne's motive for continuing to visit her, and that's pretty much it. I'm not complaining - at the moment, romance would be a bit much. I'm really looking forward to learning more about Jeanne, though. I like her even more than I thought I would.

Reading progress update: I've read 73 out of 426 pages.

The Mystic Marriage - Heather Rose Jones

Antuniet describes a thing she did with a charm designed to tell you the name of your true love:


"'And your true love was a book?' Jeanne asked."


Ha, no, she modified the charm to help her identify the thing in a room that would be most useful to her, and then used it to find books. I approve. (But dang it would have been great if her true love had been a book.)

Reading progress update: I've read 58 out of 553 pages.

Ichi-F: A Worker's Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant - Kazuto Tatsuta

Back to this for a bit. I'm sure this was released in flipped form in order to appeal to a broader audience, but since I'm used to the usual right-to-left format I keep catching myself trying to guess which panels are fully flipped and which aren't. For example, based on the number of people who seem to be right-handed, the map of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant looks like it wasn't flipped:



The location of the driver's seat tells me that the car scenes also weren't flipped, although there are a few more subtle signs that point to that. For example, take this panel:



The guy on our left is the driver, so the driver's seat is a good indicator that the panel wasn't flipped. However, the speech bubbles are also good indicators. If this book were unflipped and you were reading the pages and panels from right to left, you'd start at the right panel and your eye would naturally move down to the next panel. This is the very top panel on the page, so the downward motion of the bubbles would lead you further down the page, to the next panels and bubbles.


Of course, since the volume is flipped you don't quite get that effect. You start with that first bubble, your eye travels upwards to the next one...and then you have to go back downwards to the next parts of the page. It's not a thing I'd have noticed back when ALL manga was flipped, but I notice it now, darn it. It also makes me wonder: in the original Japanese, did the guy on the right say what the guy on the left is now saying, and vice versa?


Then there's this panel, which was definitely flipped:


Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones

Daughter of Mystery - Heather  Rose Jones

Daughter of Mystery is set in the fictional European country of Alpennia, sometime in the early 19th century. Chapters alternate between Barbara’s perspective and Margerit’s. Barbara knows she’s of noble birth but has no idea who her parents are. Her father lost everything due to his gambling debts and sold her to Baron Seveze when she was only a baby. She is now the baron’s armin (formal bodyguard/duelist).

Margerit Sovitre is the baron’s goddaughter, although he generally hasn’t been in her life much. Margerit is an orphan who was taken in by her aunt and uncle. She has no interest in attending balls or getting married, but that’s the direction in which her life seems to be going, until Baron Seveze dies and everyone learns to their shock that he has left her his entire fortune. He also left her Barbara, despite his promise to free her, and made it so that Margerit cannot free her before she (Margerit) comes of age without most of the baron’s fortune going to the Convent of Saint Orisul instead. Margerit is willing to do this, but her uncle, who still controls her life, isn’t willing to let her. However, Margerit’s efforts win her Barbara’s loyalty. With Barbara at her side, Margerit pursues her heart’s desire: studying philosophy and theology at the university in Rotenek. Meanwhile, Barbara digs into the mystery of her own past.

I hate writing reviews of things I actually enjoyed. I came very close to just pushing out three bulleted lists: What I Liked, What I Didn’t Like, and Things That Didn’t Fit Into the Other Two Categories. ::sigh::

I adored the first half of this book. Sure, it was slow, but in a good way. It reminded me strongly of Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, if that book had been written from the perspective of its women. There was Barbara, who usually dressed as a man and was a skilled bodyguard and duelist. And there was Margerit, who, like The Goblin Emperor’s Maia, was abruptly thrust into the limelight by her changed circumstances. She was expected to find a husband, manage his household, and bear his children, and instead the baron’s money opened up a path to all the things she’d really wanted (plus at least one thing she hadn't even considered).

The setting had a definite sense of weight and depth to it, and the politics was intriguing, if occasionally confusing. I was fascinated with the way religion and magic seemed to be intertwined, even as I worried that Margerit was happily and blindly heading towards being declared a heretic. Even though Barbara spent more of the book in on-page danger than Margerit, I tended to worry more about Margerit than her. Barbara was cool, competent, and definitely more politically savvy.

The pacing occasionally got too slow for my tastes, especially in the second half. There were times when I wished some of the political details and Margerit and Barbara’s analyses of religious mysteries had been tightened up a bit. To be fair, many of the things that looked unimportant or unrelated did eventually tie together in the end, it just took longer than I expected.

Barbara and Margerit’s relationship was one of those things I both enjoyed and had issues with. I liked that it took a while for them to go from bonding over shared interests to mutual secret attraction, and finally to discussing how they felt about each other. Considering the difference in their positions - after all, Barbara was technically Margerit’s inherited property - it would have felt weird if things had progressed more quickly. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t occasionally get frustrated with how long everything took.

For the most part, Barbara seemed to be more acutely aware of the difference in their positions than Margerit...up until a scene late in the book when Margerit told Barbara “You forget your place” during an argument. I was horrified, Barbara felt like she’d been kicked in the gut, and Margerit immediately regretted it. I kept waiting for them to talk about it. Margerit mentioned the scene once, a little, when she voiced her fear that she’d lost Barbara for good, and they talked more about some related issues near the end, but I still felt like the author brushed that one scene aside a bit too much.

Despite my issues with the pacing and my slight dissatisfaction with the way Margerit and Barbara’s relationship was handled, I really enjoyed Daughter of Mystery and am looking forward to reading the next book. I wish I'd purchased the whole series while it was still on sale at Kobo.


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

Reading progress update: I've read 42 out of 553 pages.

Ichi-F: A Worker's Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant - Kazuto Tatsuta

So far this is a very detailed look at the daily life of an Ichi-F worker (lots of time spent putting on and taking off protective gear), with occasional pauses for Tatsuta to rail against "tabloid lies" and "malicious fabrication."


Got this in time for my long weekend

Ichi-F: A Worker's Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant - Kazuto Tatsuta

I have a three-day weekend, starting Friday, and so far my plans include:

  • The Mystic Marriage by Heather Rose Jones - Daughter of Mystery made me wish I'd started it at the beginning of a long weekend, so I'm going to try to do The Mystic Marriage right.
  • Ichi-F: A Worker's Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant by Kazuto Tatsuta - I wasn't expecting our Acquisitions Librarian to purchase this one so soon, but now it's in my hand. Yay! We'll see how this goes. I haven't read much nonfiction manga, but what little I've tried I generally haven't managed to finish. This one's a brick - it was originally released in Japan in three volumes.
  • Digging into my huge backlog of games on Steam - I want to play more Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble, and I think I might have some Higurashi: When They Cry.

Okay, so they have lots of good ideas for how these robots could be used, and yet my first thought was "how creepy-cute, I want one as a pet!" But, oh, the little things die.


They remind me of insects, a little.

Reading progress update: I've read 20 out of 187 pages.

The Naked Sun - Isaac Asimov

"Baley said with some agitation, 'That's all right, boy. Leave the ports closed.'


He used the 'boy' address that Earthmen always used for robots, but the robot showed no adverse response. It couldn't, of course. Its responses were limited and controlled by the Laws of Robotics."

Oh, that racism. I mean, anti-robot sentiment. 

Reading progress update: I've read 12 out of 187 pages.

The Naked Sun - Isaac Asimov

Okay, I'm starting this. Have some out-of-context travel terror:


"There were five other passengers on the plane (he could not help noticing that much) and each one of them had his private right to whatever degree of fear and anxiety his nature and upbringing made him feel."