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Familiar Diversions

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

Currently reading

Patient Zero
Ray Porter, Jonathan Maberry
Progress: 137/887 minutes
Gorgeous Carat, Volume 01
You Higuri
Progress: 40/170 pages
Log Horizon, Vol. 1: The Beginning of Another World
Mamare Touno
Progress: 101/213 pages
Neanderthal Seeks Human
Penny Reid
Progress: 135/319 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

Reading progress update: I've read 101 out of 213 pages.

Log Horizon, Vol. 1: The Beginning of Another World - Mamare Touno

Oof. The anime and book have the same pacing problems, but they're much more noticeable in the book, at least for me. Nothing much has happened, and there's nothing you could really call a plot. Also, in both the anime and the book it bugs me that no one thinks much about their life before everything changed. Akatsuki and Shiroe were college students with terrible social skills, and Naotsugu had a job somewhere. That's it, that's all I know about their lives outside the game.

Forced semi-break from BL

It looks like BL still works for me on my phone, but on a PC, where I do the bulk of my post writing, I can't get more than one post to load on my Dashboard at a time. I also don't have any formatting options when I go to write a post - no spoiler tagging ability, no bolding, and heck, I can't even create paragraph breaks. So I'll be checking BL on my phone, but I probably won't be posting much until whatever has happened has resolved itself. In the meantime, I'll limit status updates to Goodreads, and I still post reviews on Goodreads, LibraryThing, and my Blogspot blog.

Just in via ILL

Dramacon Ultimate Edition - Svetlana Chmakova ....I'm curious to see what this post is going to look like, since none of the post formatting options are showing up right now. I couldn't bold or italicize text if I wanted to, and I'm not sure my paragraph breaks are going to stick. Anyway, this just came in via ILL. It'll be a reread. I vaguely recall it being cute but the structure not quite working for me. I'll see how well it holds up and how good my memory is. (And ooh, I see now that I also can't add tags. Goodie.)

Reading progress update: I've read 40 out of 170 pages.

Gorgeous Carat, Volume 01 - You Higuri

There are no page numbers, so I'm guessing and am probably wrong.

 

"...The more a man resists...the more he betrays his senses and lets out his true self. Like a young maiden drowning in the darkness of the first pleasures of love, and finding nothing but mystery..."

 

WTF. To be clear, this quote comes from a scene where Ray/Noir is having Florian whipped in an effort to get him to say where his family's diamond is.

Humble Manga Bundle: Fantasy

Ooh. Although I continue to struggle with digital manga (I have sooo many volumes I have yet to read), I may get this bundle.

 

Titles I've read at least some of and enjoyed:

 

- Land of the Lustrous: Sci-fi in which gemstone-based people live their lives and try to avoid being broken to pieces and captured by creepy beings that come from the moon. It's a weird series, and the world-building and action is occasionally confusing, but it's also lovely and has managed to grow on me. If you do end up finding the action confusing, the anime is streaming free for Prime members (US, not sure about other regions) and is easier to follow.

 

- Cells at Work: An anthropomorphized red blood cell tries to go about her business while anthropomorphized viruses and bacteria try to kill her, cause havoc, etc. It seems like the sort of series that could get old after a while, but the first volume, at least, is quality edutainment.

 

- Battle Angel Alita: It's been ages since I last read any of this series, and I don't know how well it holds up, but it's one of the series that first got me into manga. I recall it having dystopian elements and a cyborg main character. Oh, and yes, I've seen the trailer for the live action movie, and I deeply dislike the decision to give Alita big eyes.

 

Notes on some of the others:

 

- Pumpkin Scissors: I've read some of this and don't recall being particularly impressed. There are better "post-war period in a fantasy world" series out there.

 

- Noragami: I don't think I've read any of the manga, but I've seen and enjoyed the first season of the anime. The main characters are a god without any worshipers and a teen girl who gains the ability to see gods like him.

 

- That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: I've heard that the novels are surprisingly good. I have no idea if the same holds true for the manga.

 

- Mushishi: I've seen a little of the anime but haven't read any of the manga. The anime is gorgeous.

Disc 4 of 11

14 (Audiocd) - Peter Clines, Ray Porter

Oh man, I wish I could have taken Tim with me to talk to my apartment management. He takes no crap and shows no fear.

Reading progress update: I've read 25 out of 170 pages.

Gorgeous Carat, Volume 01 - You Higuri

I own the first two volumes of this now out-of-print series. The author/artist sounded familiar, and hey, it turns out it's the same person who illustrated Shinji Wada's Crown, which didn't really appeal to me but which I thought looked great.

 

I've hardly started reading, and one character, Florian, has already been slapped for daring to suggest that his family sell their precious diamond to survive. Now they're holding a ball, because that's always a good idea when you're on your way to financial ruin, and a gentleman thief in disguise has just walked in and compared Florian's eyes to amethysts. Oh boy. First the thief is going to take the family's diamond, and then probably their heir. Crossing my fingers that this isn't a rape-y series. I did a quick flip-through, and there doesn't appear to be any on-page sex, but Florian does seem to alternate between looking worried, crying, and being unconscious.

Still on disc 1 of 11

14 (Audiocd) - Peter Clines, Ray Porter

Yesterday I had to quit a bit early because the CD got stuck on track 6 for some reason and I didn't have the energy to figure out what was wrong and get it started again. My streaming Overdrive audiobooks definitely have some benefits - they never get stuck, and I can listen to them at work or at the gym. This audiobook is going to be work-only.

 

One thing that finally dawned on me, after listening to this audiobook two or three times and The Fold twice: Anne, the receptionist in The Fold, is quite possibly the same Anne who works with 14's Nate. If there's ever a third book set in this world, maybe she'll get boosted from the background into main character status. Of course, she'll also be a mess, considering how traumatic The Fold was for her.

Relistening

14 (Audiocd) - Peter Clines, Ray Porter

I decided I could use some apartment horror. I'm not fond of the part after they find out the building's purpose, but I love everything before that.

Gakuen Prince (manga, vol. 3) by Jun Yuzuki, translated by Harumi Ueno

Gakuen Prince 3 - Jun Yuzuki

Things finally seem to be going better for Rise, now that she and Azusa have had their mock wedding and have been officially approved of and supported by Reiko Onitsuka, the student body president. However, it's clear that Akamaru still dislikes and distrusts Azusa. Nobunaga, a member of the student council, decides to use that fact to try to lure Akamaru to the dark side (i.e. the student council, which Akamaru has thus far resisted joining).

It all starts when Azusa comes down with a cold. Rise goes to his house and learns just how much he's been hiding from her and everyone else. His secrets soon land him in hot water at school, threaten to destroy his relationship with Rise, and add to Akamaru's list of reasons to want him gone.

This is the first volume in this series that I haven't disliked. Which isn't to say that I think this series has taken a turn for the better. It's still a dumpster fire of horrible people, a central "romance" I can't bring myself to root for, and world-building that is both shoddy and vile. But this volume allowed me to mentally recast Akamaru as Rise's true love interest as Azusa repeatedly shot himself in the foot. Again. Seriously, the guy is an idiot. He probably doesn't deserve whatever volume 4 has in store for him (anything called

a "public execution," involving what I think is a riding crop,

(show spoiler)

can't possibly be good), but I wouldn't cry if he were banished from the school for good.

This is also the first volume in the series that hasn't included on-page or hinted-at sexual assault. The male student council members apparently have orgies while the study body president is away, so these high schoolers are still having a ridiculous amount of sex, but at least it looked to be consensual.

All right, back to Akamaru and Azusa. I'm still not sure why Akamaru seems to like Rise so much, but he was definitely pretty cute, saving the lunch Rise didn't get a chance to give Azusa, and eating his mushrooms when Rise commented on his picky eating habits. The more I grew to like Akamaru, the more of an inconsistent mess Azusa seemed. He'd act like a clueless but potentially adorable idiot one minute, and then become hard and cold the next. And considering what his private life turned out to be like, Jyoushioka High School's setup should have been a snap for him. I'm not sure the author thought that one through very well.

This is where my Gakuen Prince reading experience ends. From what I can tell, volume 3 was the last paper volume of this series to be printed. Digital versions of the later volumes are available, but I don't care enough for this series, or even just Akamaru, to want to buy them.

Extras:

Considering that this volume ends on a fairly dark note, the extras are practically sugary sweet by comparison.

  • A one-page comic-style author's note about one of her assistants.
  • Four two-page shorts, each focused on a different character: Azusa Mizutani, Omi Akamaru, Suguru Munechika, and Reiko Onitsuka (who seems to either be bi or a lesbian).
  • A personality test that matches you up with one of six characters in the series. I was fairly confident about my answers until the last question, which I wasn't sure about. Then I peeked at the results, and I'm going with the answer that gets me Akamaru, because the other answer would have gotten me Azusa. And hoo boy, the descriptions for the different people you could end up with are about what you'd expect considering this series. For example, here's a portion of Munechika's: "The more incompetent you are, the more he'll want to protect you. And this will lead to love! You should ask for his help, even if you can do things for yourself. It's better to leave it all up to him in bed too!"
  • A two-page afterword.
  • A two-page comic about a prank the author tried to play on her assistants that didn't work out.
  • Five pages of translator's notes.

 

Rating Note:

 

I had no idea how to rate this. It was relatively entertaining and didn't enrage or repulse me as much as parts of the previous volumes. 2.5 stars is probably overly generous, but it's what I'm going with.

 

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

Reading progress update: I've read 193 out of 193 pages.

Gakuen Prince 3 - Jun Yuzuki

Hell may have frozen over: I actually didn't hate this volume. I can see why Akamaru has as many fans as he does. However, since I already know that the person the author intends Rise to end up with is Azusa, it doesn't bug me too much that this volume ends in a cliffhanger and I don't own the next one.

Gakuen Prince (manga, vol. 2) by Jun Yuzuki, translated by Harumi Ueno

Gakuen Prince 2 - Jun Yuzuki

Azusa and Rise learn that they're going to need to do a little more than just exchange neckties in order to be accepted as a real couple by the girls at their horrible school. They will also need to participate in a mock marriage, a ceremony known as the Fiançailles. Just ignore the fact that this was never mentioned in the first volume.

Rise wants nothing to do with the ceremony, especially since it will involve kissing Azusa in front of the whole school. Azusa, however, really wants the continued protection of a fake girlfriend, although he keeps telling himself that one of the main reasons he wants to participate in the Fiançailles is to finally end the other students' bullying of Rise.

Two other characters get involved: a girl named Noriko Fuwa and Akamaru, a popular but aloof guy from S-class. Noriko is determined to make Azusa her own. Akamaru, meanwhile, seems to want to protect Rise. He had previously warned her to keep her distance from Azusa, and now he goes after Azusa for continuously upsetting her, making her cry, and making her even more of a bullying target.

Anyone who accidentally skipped the first volume would likely assume this was a relatively normal, if annoying and slightly risque, romance series. A couple potential love triangles are introduced, and, if I remember right, not a single character mentions the fate that Azusa is trying to avoid.

If you did skip the first volume, or if it's been a while since you read it, allow me to remind you: at this particular school, girls vastly outnumber the boys and see this as an excuse to hunt them down and rape them. If a boy is lucky enough to find himself a girlfriend who can protect him, or if he can find a part to play (school idol, unapproachable sex god, etc.) that the girls think is acceptable and that he's willing to perform, he's safe. Otherwise, he's at the mercy of any girl who can catch him. All of the school's teachers are either too dense or too non-confrontational to be of any help.

And that's why this series is still garbage, even though this second volume scales the worst aspects way back. It was also easy to see that Yuzuki had no clue how to handle the characters or write this world. The male students' parents were generally as rich and influential as the female students' parents. Why wasn't that a factor in how they were treated? Heck, one of the teachers was too afraid of Akamaru's father to tell Akamaru that he was going to have to attend an after-school tutoring session.

In the first volume, Rise was a ball of barely suppressed rage and disdain. In this volume, that mostly disappeared, and she became a more generic delicate flower of a heroine, prone to beautiful tears. And while it was clear that Azusa was still supposed to be her primary love interest, Akamaru was at least a hundred times better than him. Where Azusa was childish, easily distracted, and prone to yelling at Rise when she didn't do what he wanted, Akamaru was protective of Rise and mature enough to see when his interference might make things worse for her rather than better. Granted, readers still don't know his motivation (if he even has one - I'm doubtful that the author has any kind of plan), but I certainly liked him more.

Although this volume did have far fewer on-page rape attempts, it still wasn't sexual assault-free. In a kissing scene that made me shudder with revulsion, Azusa forced his tongue into Rise's mouth in order to prove that they were a "real" couple (only true couples French kiss, or something like that - yeah, like I'm going to believe Munechika never French kisses any of the girls he has sex with). He got his tongue bitten, but that's beside the point. Also, the rapist lesbian returned: the school's student body president gave several female students to her as punishment for throwing raw eggs at Rise. This was supposed to be funny.

So yeah, this was slightly better than the first volume, but still crap.

Extras:

Several author's notes, a few humorous drawings, four pages of translator's notes, and a four-page untranslated preview of volume 3.

 

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

Reading progress update: I've read 100 out of 178 pages.

Gakuen Prince 2 - Jun Yuzuki

I'm finally getting back to this.

 

Surprisingly, the author has managed to set up a potential love interest for Rise who doesn't suck. This, as it turns out, was not exactly part of the plan. There's an author's note at this point in the volume where the author is literally begging readers to root for Azusa (the series' supposed actual love interest) more than Akamaru (the accidental better love interest).

 

I have a feeling Jun Yuzuki gives her editors ulcers. Earlier in the volume, she included a couple examples of her rough drafts, as well as a list of comments she often gets:

 

"I can't tell who's who. And I can't read your writing."

"Can't tell who's who, and I also can't figure out what they're doing."

"I mean, it's indecipherable."

"I have no idea what's happening until the final draft is sent to us."

Rough week

[Non-book post ahead]

 

This has been a miserable week. My latest lease renewal did not go well and resulted in the biggest single increase in monthly payments I've experienced since moving in 10 years ago. There were also additional issues related to my owning a pet, which didn't crop up until after I'd signed my lease and which involved me having to track down paperwork and payment information from 8 years ago (when I first got my cat, back when the apartment was under different management and slightly different pet rules). Four days later, they're finally no longer trying to claim that I never notified them about her existence and never paid the supposedly one-time pet fee, but the monthly pet fees I'd been grandfathered out of for the past 5 years are going into effect.

 

For the first time in my life, I'm seriously considering buying a house. I've lived in apartments all my life and really love my current one and its location, but it turns out that I love living with my cat (and any potential future cats) more than I hate the idea of home ownership.

Reading progress update: I've listened 38 out of 592 minutes.

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life - Ed Yong

I was having trouble settling on a fiction audiobook and decided that some nonfiction might be in order. Uh, I overestimated my ability to concentrate on nonfiction while exercising. We'll see how much of this I manage to retain while listening at work.

Reading progress update: I've listened 357 out of 357 minutes.

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death - Maggie O'Farrell

The final story in the book dealt with something I actually have a bit of personal connection to: the author's daughter's severe allergies, which resulted in horrible eczema and, later, a risk of anaphylactic shock if she's exposed to the wrong thing.

 

My youngest niece has had eczema her whole life, for similar reasons, and there are times I think "she has never had a moment in her life when she was not itchy" and "I worry that she'll never have a non-itchy moment." She's six now. She worried about meeting other children because she thought they might think she looked like a mummy (my sister sometimes wraps her arms and hands in bandages). My sister and I both winced when she said she wanted to be a cowgirl when she grew up, brushing off the whole allergy thing as something you don't have as an adult (my sister has hoped that she'd grow out of her allergies, which she seems to have interpreted as "I will definitely grow out of them").

 

O'Farrell's experiences with doctors were very much like my sister's experiences with military doctors - one useless steroid cream prescription after another - although the main difference is that my sister knew to suspect allergies. She just couldn't get anyone to finally refer her baby to an allergist.

 

Unfortunately, O'Farrell switched back to second person (it at least seemed more appropriate this time around) and then went on and on. One thing that struck me, that had actually occurred to me back in a previous chapter, when O'Farrell wrote about her boyfriend admitting he'd cheated on her, was that, although the chapter was about her daughter's brush with death, O'Farrell kept turning the focus back to herself. Her own struggles with doctors, with finding something that could help her daughter's skin, her reaction to people's horror at seeing her baby. She even went back to before her daughter was born - the fertility treatments, her and her doctor's belief that they'd failed, and her surprise pregnancy.

 

In the chapter about her cheating boyfriend, she wrote about going to get tested for STDs, because who knows what her boyfriend might have given her. At the very end of the chapter, so quickly I almost missed it, she implied that the reason she'd invited a male friend of hers to come with her and get tested himself was because she suspected he had an STD himself (possibly AIDS?).

 

So anyway, I made it to the end. As I said in a previous update, this really would have been better if it had been article length. I'd say read the first story and quit there.