181 Following

Familiar Diversions

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

Currently reading

Nine Princes in Amber: The Chronicles of Amber, Book 1
Alessandro Juliani, Roger Zelazny
Progress: 123/331 minutes
Making Arrangements
Progress: 44 %
Let's Talk About Love
Claire Kann
Progress: 80/277 pages
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


I spent all of yesterday doing volunteer work - an inventory project for a local elementary school library. It was more physical than I expected, lots of bending over books in an effort to get the angle that the book scanner responded to best. Today I'm very aware that I'm out of shape. My poor legs and lower back! On the plus side, I've been doing hamstring stretches for a week now (I should have been doing them for the past year, oops), and they seem to be helping because my right hip and leg aren't as bad off as I expected.


One interesting find from yesterday: a singed book. I learned that the kid who'd had it checked out had been on a camping trip and the book had accidentally fallen into the fire. It was rescued but suffered a slightly singed edge and and a somewhat melted plastic book jacket cover. I was glad to learn that the singeing hadn't happened inside the library.

Reading progress update: I've read 248 out of 248 pages.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit - Nahoko Uehashi, Cathy Hirano

I reviewed this way back before I ever assigned anything star ratings, but judging by my review I probably would have given it 3 or maybe 3.5 stars. Now, though, I'm leaning towards 4.5, even with the occasionally stiff writing/translation. I loved Balsa, the found family aspect, and the way the ending depended on deciphering old stories and traditions (and the future depends upon keeping them alive).


I think this might be the last card that Tannat and I needed for the Red Group game, but I'm not entirely sure.


Reading progress update: I've listened 123 out of 331 minutes.

Nine Princes in Amber: The Chronicles of Amber, Book 1 - Alessandro Juliani, Roger Zelazny

Oh boy. Corwin just matter-of-factly admitted to his traveling companions that he has no idea what's going on and what they're about to do. One of them has been with him for the past few hours, occasionally asking for his input and trusting that he has some kind of plan.

Humble Jumbo Bundle (not books, but good)

I've played a couple games in this bundle and consider both of them to be good, if you're into puzzle-solving.


Rusty Lake: Roots - A point-and-click adventure game with lots of weird little puzzles. I think it started life as a phone or tablet game. It's a family saga that takes you from the family's beginnings, through a few generations, and up to what is almost the series' present. It's one of my top favorite entries in the Rusty Lake/Cube Escape series and works perfectly fine as a standalone. If you'd like a taste of the gameplay style, most of the games in the series are available for free - search "Cube Escape" in whatever app store you use. My favorite of the free ones is probably Cube Escape: Birthday (although, be warned, there's some sudden violence, a moment when

a shooter comes and kills the main character's whole family

(show spoiler)

). All the games have varying degrees of gross or violent moments, but the characters involved are generally pretty emotionally detached from those moments, if that helps.


Obduction - If you have the same Myst nostalgia that I have, you might already own this. I haven't finished it yet - I've gotten through two of what I think are probably three total connected worlds. It has some of the same issues as the Myst games - times when it's difficult to tell what you should be doing next or whether you're even on the right track - but it also has many of the elements that made the Myst games so good. My favorite thing so far has been the moment when I learned that the world of Obduction is actually much, much larger than it at first appears to be.

Reading progress update: I've listened 73 out of 331 minutes.

Nine Princes in Amber: The Chronicles of Amber, Book 1 - Alessandro Juliani, Roger Zelazny

For some reason all the siblings make me think of the House of Abrasax in Jupiter Ascending.


I still have no idea what's going on, and neither does Corwin, the protagonist. He has bluffed his way through everything in the book so far, keeping everything he says just vague enough that the people he's talking to fill in the blanks for themselves (and sometimes for him, giving him a little more information). It's been kind of fun, although I still don't buy that bit at the beginning, when the guy handed over a few hundred dollars for an "out-of-court settlement" and allowed Corwin to leave without any proof that the supposed settlement ever happened.

Tor.com’s eBook of the Month Club: Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer

Too Like the Lightning - Ada Palmer

This is for US and Canada only, and you only have until 11:59 PM ET March 23rd to download it.


This is one I've seen mentioned before and was a bit interested in, so I plan on downloading it.

Reading progress update: I've listened 13 out of 331 minutes.

Nine Princes in Amber: The Chronicles of Amber, Book 1 - Alessandro Juliani, Roger Zelazny

I haven't gotten very far yet, but either the protagonist has special powers or this is all just "dude in a dudely novel" stuff at work. He woke up with very few memories, evidence of recent severe injuries (which have healed), and a realization that he'd been kept heavily drugged. He has spent every moment since then ordering people around without the slightest hesitation or expectation of being disobeyed and, other than the one guy he beat up a bit, everyone meekly obeys him. Right now he's ordering some guy to give him money for an out of court settlement for being kept against his will, or something. And the guy's only complaint is that he doesn't have as much money on him as the protagonist wants. Okay then.

Reading progress update: I've read 194 out of 248 pages.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit - Nahoko Uehashi, Cathy Hirano

Still loving this. I don't know if it's just that my perspective has changed, or if it's benefited from me not having recently seen the anime and therefore not constantly noting changed details.


That said, I'm still thinking about the anime. I'd like to rewatch it, but one thing I realized during this reread is that, if Cathy Hirano's translation is accurate, it was whitewashed. Balsa is Kanbalese, Tanda is Yakoo, and Chagum is Yogoese. One way you can tell that Tanda is definitely Yakoo is by his skin color. He's described as having "dark, almost black skin" (83) that contrasts with his "brown, unruly hair" (84). Balsa is tanned, and Chagum is probably pretty pale (I can't find an exact description). Here's what the three of them look like in the anime:



That's Tanda in the middle with vaguely darker skin, sort of. And hey, look how tanned Balsa isn't.

Reading progress update: I've read 102 out of 248 pages.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit - Nahoko Uehashi, Cathy Hirano

I'm definitely enjoying this more the second time around. And I forgotten about some of the things I liked during my first reading, too, like the way Uehashi included a few typical characters and then flipped their usual genders. For example, there's the serious and competent warrior character, who in this case is female, and the kind younger healer with an interest in the spirit world, who in this case is male.


And now we have a badass 70-year-old woman who just used trickery to defeat a couple Hunters in less than a minute.

Reading progress update: I've read 72 out of 248 pages.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit - Nahoko Uehashi, Cathy Hirano

"They had made a disastrous mistake. It have never occurred to them that Balsa would be able to withstand the assault of three Hunters. No matter how great her reputation, she was, after all, only a woman; no one had imagined she could be so strong."


Oh, I love Balsa. :-D

Yukarism (manga, vol. 2) by Chika Shiomi, translated by John Werry

Yukarism, Vol. 2 - Chika Shiomi

Katsuhiko Satomi has arrived at Yukari's house in order to take over the housekeeping duties while his aunt is waiting for her back to heal. Yukari immediately notices that he seems familiar and figures that he knew him in his past life. But who was he? Takamura, the man who may have killed Yumurasaki? Or perhaps someone else?

The question continues to plague Yukari as he is once again transported into the past. This time around, he witnesses new sides to Takamura and Kazuma that make him wonder about everything he's assumed so far. Meanwhile, Satomi and Mahoro struggle against their past selves, who hate each other intensely.

This volume was definitely better than the first. The way Mahoro and Satomi kept being taken over by their past selves was a bit odd and over-the-top, but I loved the various revelations about their identities.

Yukari continued to be somewhat bland, but it was revealed that this blandness was connected to the way his past life had mixed with his current one. He held himself aloof from everyone because a part of him still approached life the way Yumurasaki had. I thought that aspect was interesting.

Considering how menacing Takamura was in the first volume, I was more than a little surprised by the way he was suddenly presented, in this volume, as more of a romantic figure, amusingly lovesick over Yumurasaki. He still had that edge of menace from time to time, but this time around it was never directed towards Yumurasaki, but rather always towards those who might hurt her. While I enjoyed the scene where Yumurasaki turned down his offer to buy her freedom, it was a reminder that, if he'd really wanted to push things, she probably wouldn't have had much of a choice.

Two more volumes to go before the end of the series. The past has already happened and presumably can't be changed - Yumurasaki is going to die in a fire, potentially after some kind of battle. The question, now, is who was responsible for her death, and will the events of the past lead to people in the present killing each other?


Several author sidebars about the time Shiomi hurt her back, and two pages of translator's notes.


Rating Note:


My gut-level rating, the first time I finished this, was 4 stars. Then I waited several weeks before reviewing it and realized I'd already forgotten a lot of it. Upon rereading it, I downgraded my rating to 3.5 stars.


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

The Fold (audiobook) by Peter Clines, narrated by Ray Porter

The Fold - Peter Clines, Ray Porter

Mike is a small town English teacher who would prefer to stay a small town English teacher forever. However, an old friend of his has finally found a project that intrigues him enough that he's finally willing to use the abilities he's locked away as much as possible.

Mike is sent to learn as much as he can about the Albuquerque Door project and report his findings back to his friend Reggie, so that an informed decision can be made about whether to renew the project's budget. Mike, with his high IQ and eidetic memory, is uniquely qualified to do this job - he can get up to speed faster than anybody else Reggie might have on staff. And one of the things Mike quickly figures out is that the Albuquerque Door folks are hiding something from him. The Door does exactly what it's supposed to do, allowing people to travel a great distance in just a single step, and the hundreds of tests that have been performed have all gone perfectly. So why is everyone so secretive and so adamant that more tests need to be run?

I've listened to this three times and am just now getting around to writing a review about it. The first time I listened to it was a couple years ago. I knew going in that it was a loose sequel to Clines' 14, which meant that I had a set of expectations as to what the Door was and how things were going to go. The first half of the book didn't compare favorably to 14 at all. It was very slow, and I got frustrated with how secretive everyone was. The second half was more fun and occasionally surprising, considering what 14 had led me to expect.

My re-listens went better than my first time through. The first half wasn't quite so frustrating because I knew going in that it was going to take a while for the characters to let their guard down, and I enjoyed looking for signs of the twist I knew would be happening later on.

Mike's abilities were cool, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they had very little in common with what having an eidetic memory is like in real life. His recall of visual information was perfect, and he could "rewind" and look at any scenes he'd ever witnessed as much as he'd like. He could even take massive amounts of data from documents he'd seen and create graphs and charts with it in his head. The bit with the shooting near the end struck me as a being a bit ridiculous, even with

the setup Clines did earlier on in the book, showing how Mike could throw stuff into a trashcan without looking or move around in a dark room without trouble. Throwing stuff into a trashcan is one thing, but had Mike ever even held a gun before?

(show spoiler)

Just as in 14, Clines presented readers with a likely love interest for his main character and then paired him off with someone else. The sex scene bothered me even more during my re-listens than it did the first time around, because the detail that Mike missed became even more obvious. I suppose lust shut his brain off?

The monsters were a little cheesy, especially in audio, but I actually thought The Fold's monster part was better than 14's monster part. I did find myself wishing that Sasha hadn't had such a limited swearing vocabulary, though.

All in all, The Fold was pretty good. I felt it was more consistently enjoyable than 14 but that 14 had a much better setup. Crossing my fingers that Clines writes another book set in this world. And maybe allows his next hero to stay single.

Oh, and a slight spoiler: all the animals

technically make it through okay.

(show spoiler)


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

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand (book, vol. 1) by Makoto Inoue, original concept by Hiromu Arakawa, translated by Alexander O. Smith with Rich Amtower

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand - Makoto Inoue, Alexander O. Smith, Hiromu Arakawa

This volume is composed of two stories. The primary one is "The Land of Sand." The shorter bonus story is "The Phantom of Warehouse 13." Both of these stories were adapted into episodes in the original anime series.

"The Land of Sand":

Edward and Alphonse arrive at the dying former gold mining town of Xenotime and are shocked to learn that two boys who say their names are Edward and Alphonse Elric have been living in Xenotime for a while, researching how to make a Philosopher's Stone in order to revitalize the town. Who are these imposters, and how close are they to finishing their research?

This wasn't bad, like bland but reasonably well-written fanfic. It's been a while since I watched the anime adaptation of this, but I remembered liking that more than this story. Ed and Al seemed to be pretty accurately depicted (although I've never thought of Al as being "bronze-hued" (14)), but the text did have occasional clunky moments. There were times when I could tell that the humor would probably work on-screen but was a bit awkward and weird on-page, like the time Ed and Russell transitioned from a physical battle to a verbal one.

One thing I really liked about this story was the "little brother" aspect. Both Al and Fletcher were the level-headed younger brothers, but whereas Al could talk to his brother and expect to be listened to, Fletcher was afraid to tell his brother what he was really thinking. I loved the scenes where Al and Fletcher bonded, and watching Fletcher slowly become more confident was nice.

I didn't see anything that contradicted anything I recalled from the manga (although it's been ages since I last read any of that). I agree with those who wondered why Ed didn't just pull out his State Alchemist pocket watch to prove his identity, though. I suppose you could argue that the Xenotime townsfolk were so convinced that their Edward and Alphonse were real that even that wouldn't have swayed them, but it was still a bit odd that he didn't even give it a shot.

"The Phantom of Warehouse 13":

Colonel Roy Mustang gets roped into helping his men investigate reports of nighttime ghostly activity near Warehouse 13. Several people said they heard sounds of digging and weeping. Since Warehouse 13 doesn't exist, Roy is pretty sure everything's happening near Warehouse B. He's determined to get to the bottom of it all before Eastern Command becomes both a laughing stock and a tourist attraction.

This story was goofy and ridiculous, and I enjoyed it anyway. It made no effort to even pretend that it might advance anything in the overall Fullmetal Alchemist storyline. Roy Mustang, Fuery, Havoc, Falman, and Breda were like a group of little boys taking part in a sleepover and scaring each other silly with ghost stories.

I couldn't tell whether the ending was predictable or whether I just remembered too much of the anime episode. Either way, this was a fun bit of fluff.

All in all, this volume was a quick and relatively decent read.


  • One full-page color illustration and several black-and-white illustrations created by Hiromu Arakawa.
  • A couple pages of sketches - Fletcher and Russell, plus Ed imagining how tall and suave he'll be at age 19. Also, a 4-panel comic about the planning stages for the book that's a bit horrifying if you know what happens to Maes Hughes in the series. Poor Makoto Inoue.
  • A 3-page afterword written by Makoto Inoue.


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

Reading progress update: I've read 68 out of 248 pages.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit - Nahoko Uehashi, Cathy Hirano

I first read this 8 years ago. I was iffy about it back then, but I'm enjoying it a little more now. It has the same problem that Noriko Ogiwara's Dragon Sword and Wind Child had, stiff writing (translation?) and pacing that doesn't quite work for me. But the premise is interesting, and I like Balsa.

Reading progress update: I've read 378 out of 378 pages.

When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon

This was so good. Once the sudden thunderstorm is done, it's time to sit down and do some reviewing. I'm so behind.


And now, which crime scene will I guess? So few remaining ones, so much pressure. I think I'll go with Pemberley, because I like that it fits the "contains all the letters in 'pride'" part of the card.


Reading progress update: I've read 273 out of 378 pages.

When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon

Oh, whoa, this may have just gotten a little soap opera-ish. Minor character shenanigans time!