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Familiar Diversions

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

Currently reading

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
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
Christopher Moore
House of Leaves
Mark Z. Danielewski
Progress: 22/709 pages
On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety
Andrea Petersen
Progress: 80/260 pages

Sweat and Soap (manga, vol. 1) by Kintetsu Yamada, translated by Matt Treyvaud

Sweat and Soap, Vol. 1 - Kintetsu Yamada, Matt Treyvaud

When she was a child, Asako was bullied for the way she sweated, and she's been painfully self-conscious about her body odor ever since. She now works in the Finance Department of her favorite toiletries and cosmetics company, Liliadrop, and although the company's soaps and other products give her happiness, she still worries so much about her body odor that it pretty much dictates her whole life. She keeps quiet and still so she won't work up a sweat, and she spends her work breaks reapplying deodorant.

Then one day a man comes up to her at work, sniffs her, and declares that she smells amazing and that, for the good of the company, he must sniff her every day. Natori is a planner in Liliadrop's production development. He's supposed to come up with ideas for the company's Winter soap lineup, but he's been drawing a blank. Asako's scent inspires him and, although the idea of being sniffed makes her anxious, Asako wants to help the man behind the soaps she loves so much. But what if there's more than just soap inspiration brewing between them?

Before reading the review that inspired me to buy this, I'd seen this work around multiple times and always scrolled past it without even bothering to look at its product page. I honestly didn't even know how it was tagged or what age range it was aimed at - I saw the cover art and automatically assumed it was rapey porn aimed at guys with a particular interest in on-page bodily fluids.

In reality, it's a quirky workplace romance that includes some steamy moments and a couple non-explicit sex scenes. There's more on-page nudity on her part than on his, but it's of the Barbie doll variety, with nipple-less breasts. The focus is more on Asako and Natori and their developing relationship than on sex.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this. I've actually read it three times now and am very much looking forward to the next volume. Natori wasn't the alpha jerk the cover art had me assuming he'd be. He was confident about his sense of smell and abilities as a soap creator, but more awkward when it came to his and Asako's romantic relationship, even though he didn't have Asako's pile of insecurities. Asako had spent so much of her life being small and quiet that it carried over into their relationship - she'd avoid talking about things that worried or upset her because she didn't want to upset or bother Natori. This caused some minor problems, but I was pleasantly surprised at a conversation they had at the end of the volume, and I'm crossing my fingers that jealousy (on her part) won't become volume 2's big issue.

In some ways, Asako and Natori's relationship made me think of Kimi no Todoke's Sawako and Kazehaya. Natori was the popular guy, always surrounded by people and generally comfortable in his own skin, while Asako, like Sawako, was more reserved and painfully aware of the negative effect she might be having on others (although in Asako's case it was more in her head - there was zero indication that anyone in her adult life thought she smelled bad or sweated more than other people).

The beginning of this volume, in particular, may throw some people off. Natori's Asako-sniffing sessions tended to look like quick workplace trysts, and there was one bit where he got a little too into it and started to cross a line, freaking Asako out. While I liked that he realized he'd done something inappropriate and apologized, I wished Asako hadn't felt the need to say that she was the one who should apologize. During my rereads, though, I realized that it fit her character - she was smoothing things over and avoiding conflict as best she could.

I wish I'd discovered this series after a few more volumes had been released - I'd love it if I could immediately read more. I'm looking forward to seeing where the author goes with this. Here's hoping the next few volumes are as enjoyable as this one.

Extras:

A two-page manga-style afterword by the author, plus a two-page bonus comic about Asako's bra shopping trip after her first night at Natori's place. One thing the afterword revealed that I hadn't realized: the manga's first chapter was originally a one-shot.

 

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

Reading progress update: I've read 205 out of 205 pages.

Sweat and Soap, Vol. 1 - Kintetsu Yamada, Matt Treyvaud

I thought I was getting a cold yesterday (slight sore throat that didn't go away after drinking hot tea throughout the day), so I read this a couple more times out of self pity. It was even better the second and third time around, although I'd totally understand if the heroine bugged other readers. Her self-confidence is basically at floor level.

 

A thing I hope for, in future volumes: Reika Tsubaki, the queen of the Cosmetics Group, meets Asako and takes a shine to her. The contrast between her open disapproval of Natori (she hates his lax attitude towards rules) and her supportiveness towards Asako would be great. All of the female staff in the Cosmetics Group love her, so I'm hoping odds of her turning out to be a Mean Girl are low.

Reading progress update: I've read 205 out of 205 pages.

Sweat and Soap, Vol. 1 - Kintetsu Yamada, Matt Treyvaud

Oh, that was a nice surprise. Natori actually notices that something's off and asks Asako about it, and instead of refusing to talk about it, she talks it through with him. Part of it, anyway. It'll be interesting to see how things go in the next volume.

 

The thing I hate about reading new manga releases is that I can't just order the next few volumes and plow through them.

Reading progress update: I've read 112 out of 205 pages.

Sweat and Soap, Vol. 1 - Kintetsu Yamada, Matt Treyvaud

Natori to Asako: "I'd be proud to introduce you to everyone as my girlfriend right now. But not if that'd make things harder for you."

 

Aww. The cover art really doesn't do this justice. Natori's a sweetie. Although I, too, would feel a bit weirded out if a guy wanted to sniff me all the time, and I don't even have Asako's body odor anxieties.

Reading progress update: I've read 85 out of 205 pages.

Sweat and Soap, Vol. 1 - Kintetsu Yamada, Matt Treyvaud

As a longtime reader of shoujo romance who is now in her late thirties, I have to say it's nice to be reading a romance manga starring adults. I mean, yes, I still love all those cute high school romances, but something starring characters closer to my own age makes for a nice change of pace.

 

And yes, it's definitely a romance, and it's a little weird. But not too weird. The heroine, Asako, was bullied as a child over the way she sweated, so now she's anxious about her body odor to the point that she puts on deodorant during her work breaks and structures her whole life so she does as little as possible that might cause her to sweat. She works at a toiletries and cosmetics company that makes some of her favorite body odor-fighting products. Then she meets Natori, a planner in the company's production development. He's a scent geek with a highly developed sense of smell, and something about Asako's scent really, really appeals to him. There's one bit that I think could have been handled better, but so far I'm really enjoying this.

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 205 pages.

Sweat and Soap, Vol. 1 - Kintetsu Yamada, Matt Treyvaud

I passed this one by multiple times because the cover art screams "rapey porn" and the title added a side of "probably includes gross bodily fluids all over the place." Then I read a review from a reasonably trustworthy source that said this is actually a pretty sweet, if weird, romance. Also, while it does have sex scenes, it's apparently not as porny as I thought.

 

So I'm giving it a shot. I looked through it really quick and the artwork is nice, at least.

Something nice: A tale of cross-species romance

The link goes to a Twitter thread about Napoleon (a small rooster) and Turkey Girl (a turkey), who love each other. It's sweet.

Pandemic posts: Umpteenth work update

I had a different post I was going to write, and then I happened to look at Facebook and learned that, as of 40 minutes ago, the first confirmed case at my university had been announced, an off-campus student. No idea yet whether they'd been coming to campus at all.

 

Anyway, this and the shelter in place being extended another month currently have little effect on buildings like the university library. We're still open, operating with a skeleton crew.

 

The Public Services folks have it worst - they're scheduled to work two days at the library and three at home, unless a doctor's note says otherwise. Technical Services folks like myself were given a choice to work four days at home and one at the library or three days at home and two at the library, although it turns out that the decision has to be consistent across each department. My staff member had wanted to work a 3-2 schedule while I wanted to work 4-1. In the end we've gone with 4-1, unless it gets changed on us again. My boss has gripes about this (she thinks 4-1 makes Technical Services look less "essential," and I think that's silly for multiple reasons), but I'm relatively happy with it.

 

So tomorrow I'm off to do my one day, hiding in my office as much as possible.

Pandemic post: Work

I'll just put "Pandemic post" at the top of all my pandemic-related stuff so folks can skip if they need to.

 

The county declared a shelter in place order last week, which is currently still scheduled to end after tomorrow. It wasn't enough to force the university to close any more buildings, but it did allow some of us in the library to get permission to work from home, even without a doctor's note. I took Thursday to finish getting everything ready for me to work from home, and I've been working at home since Friday. My staff member stayed because 1) the pandemic hasn't been worrying her all that much and 2) it meant our student worker could still get paid for her full number of hours.

 

Now the town is up to 5 confirmed cases, one of whom died while waiting for his test results to come in, and community spread seems likely. My staff member's mother, who she lives with, has started to become worried, so the whole family wants to stay at home. My boss is unhappy that both members of the department will be gone at the same time, but my work from home permission expires after tomorrow unless the shelter in place order gets extended, so me being back on Thursday will probably make her happy.

 

She'll be less happy when I start making a fuss about her requests to come to her office so that we can sit next to each other and edit library catalog records together. It's the one thing that's really bugged her about me working at home - no sitting together while she works on the computer and I tell her what changes to make to the records. I could edit the records on my own if she'd just send them to me, but she enjoys the whole process too much to give any of it up.

 

My boss thinks the county, or possibly even City Council, might extend the shelter in place. I'm doubtful. But in case they do, she's already fretting over how we'll get books rush cataloged and processed for users if they need them right away. I have no one at home I could get sick, so I've volunteered to come in for special requests even if my work from home permission gets extended. In general, though, I'd love it if we'd stop pretending it was business as usual and just make our policy something like "we'll do our best, but don't expect to see even 'rush' requests in less than a few days."

 

Working from home has been great, despite the technology hiccups. I have a system now: get properly dressed for work from the waist up, sweatpants from the waist down, and a barcode scanner plugged into my computer from 8 to 5 to help mentally reinforce that it's working hours. I worry less about what I'm touching, just have to walk over to my kitchen to get lunch, and I don't have to worry about coworkers who don't know how much 6 feet is. I'm not looking forward to going back to the library.

Reading progress update: I've read 40%.

Parental Guidance - Avery Flynn

Things are starting to get a little domestic with a side of sexual tension. Zara and Caleb have gone on three of the five dates now and have gotten to the point where they're randomly calling each other up. Caleb's at Zara's apartment so they can watch Law & Order together. It's nice.

Reading progress update: I've read 13%.

Parental Guidance - Avery Flynn

Have I finished An Offer from a Gentleman or reviewed The Twisted Ones? No and no. I started reading this anyway. The premise: a professional hockey player who got himself into a little media hot water agrees to divert media attention by signing up for a dating service where you go on five dates, tell your parent(s) how it went, and, if I remember right, your parents decide whether it's a good match or not. The heroine is a miniatures artist who agrees to try that dating service - her friend has promised her that, if she does, she'll introduce her to a well-known miniatures collector. Also, her dad wants to use the dating service to boost his spur-of-the-moment acting "career." The hero has dyslexia but hides it because it makes him feel stupid, and the heroine has a chip on her shoulder due to her dad and jokes about her being short.

 

I'm iffy about the premise, but the banter's been relatively fun so far. This will probably be my lunchtime reading. I'm now working from home until next week Wednesday, unless "shelter in place" gets extended. The library is still open, though, and I'm trying not to feel guilty about being one of the people who gets to stay away.

Three books by Avery Flynn, free for a limited time

The Negotiator - Avery Flynn Butterface - Avery Flynn Parental Guidance - Avery Flynn

She spoke at one of the Book Bonanza panels I attended last year, and I've been meaning to try one of her books ever since.

Sorry, another COVID-19 post - ::silent scream::

The county issued a one-week shelter in place order. The City Council doesn't feel this is any different from what we've been doing and still doesn't feel that it has any power over the university. Which is in this town and employs people who largely live in this town.

 

A local doctor tried to explain that, in order to be effective, the shelter in place order would need to last for at least three months and be way stricter than it has been up to this point. I don't know how he kept from shouting at everyone, because most of the City Council (and some people watching on Facebook) began talking about the harm all of this was doing to the economy and how business income was essential to business owners and should therefore qualify them as essential under the shelter in place orders.

 

I feel like I'm living in some kind of dark comedy.

Announcing a National Emergency Library to Provide Digitized Books to Students and the Public

Internet Archive is suspending waitlists for the books in their lending library until at least June 30, 2020.

 

And another work update: The satellite campus for my university, along with the library location there, is now closed due to the city declaring shelter in place. lolsob Let's see if my local city council still tries to claim they have no power over what the university does here. We now have one confirmed case in town, and one of my coworkers may have it (she has some symptoms, but does not qualify to get tested) and is currently quarantining herself at home.

Non-book post: Work update

The library I work at is still open, with no sign that this is going to change. The governor is leaving it up to local governments to determine whether to issue a shelter in place order, while my local government has said that the university is a state entity and that therefore they do no have control over what they choose to keep open or not.

 

A portion of the library is working from home at least some of the time now, so that's something. I don't work from home because too much of what I do requires access to software and resources I can't use off-campus. That said, it's been taking me two or three times as long to get anything done.

 

Most of the library is now closed off to users - they're no longer allowed in the stacks, for example. Basically, they can come in and use our computers and request physical books from us, which we will bring them.

 

Our library director offered to buy us all lunch from a local restaurant today. The owner is great, and I figured it would be good to support him, but then I had a mini freakout when I attempted to eat my meal at work. It's a good thing that I live close enough to the library to be able to drive home to eat, because if I didn't, I don't know how I'd manage to eat lunch anymore.

My kitty girl

The holy crap adorable Raiden baby pic made me want to post some pics of my girl. Here's her as a kitten - the pics I was sent in order to convince me to take her after a coworker found her under a car:

 

 

 

And here's my goober as of a couple days ago: