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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

Reading progress update: I've read 390 out of 508 pages.

Tiffany Girl: A Novel - Deeanne Gist

And now we're at the YMCA, so I'm taking a quick break to look at its Wikipedia page.

Reading progress update: I've read 343 out of 508 pages.

Tiffany Girl: A Novel - Deeanne Gist

"If that was any indication of what went on between a man and a woman after marriage, she could certainly see why some couples ate supper before they said grace."

 

A new-to-me euphemism.

Reading progress update: I've read 296 out of 508 pages.

Tiffany Girl: A Novel - Deeanne Gist

Reeve has learned about "bustle pinchers," men who sexually harass women on streetcars, and he's horrified. He now rides with Flossie to work every day, even though it's a different streetcar than the one he'd need to take to work, to see to it that no one bothers her.

 

For some reason all of this reminded me of a contemporary-set book I read a while back, where the female main character bemoaned feminism. Something to the effect of "Sometimes a woman just wants to be sexually harassed! Is that so bad?" I want to throw this book at that author.

RIP Katherine Kellgren

Sad news. I know Katherine Kellgren mostly as the narrator of Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness books, but she narrated lots of other works.

Does BL look like this for the rest of you?

— feeling booklikes

Here's what the top of BL looks like for me this morning:

 

 

Has anybody else had a weird sudden color change?

 

ETA: And nevermind, it cleared itself up without me having to do a thing. Weird...

Reading progress update: I've read 220 out of 508 pages.

Tiffany Girl: A Novel - Deeanne Gist

Reeve has a secret serialized satire that stars a less than flattering caricature of Flossie, and I'm dreading the moment when Flossie finds out the origin and inspiration of the satire she and her fellow boarders have been reading.

 

And Flossie seems to be close to getting caught up in a scam. Noooo! I know that guy says he can sell your painting for $400, but he's totally just going to run off with your "set-up costs."

Just in via ILL

The Kneebone Boy - Ellen Potter

I'm trying to make more regular use of my library's Interlibrary Loan department, mostly to avoid buying (and having to house) so much manga. I figure I should be able to get through manga volumes well before their due dates, whereas novels are sometimes a problem for me. So what did I do, while requesting several manga volumes? I also requested a novel. But just the one!

 

I'm not generally a Middle Grade fiction person, but they always have some of the best illustrated covers and sometimes I can't resist.

Reading progress update: I've read 146 out of 508 pages.

Tiffany Girl: A Novel - Deeanne Gist

"Reeve scowled. Why did everyone do that? Tell her she was the best at everything? He'd concede her skating was impressive. Still, the best partner? Ever?"

 

For some reason I can't get the quote button to work. Oh well, yet another weird BL glitch. The italicized bit is what made this for me. I like it when Reeve is quietly grumpy. I like it a bit less when he's noisily grumpy, but we haven't quite gotten there yet in this scene.

Natsume's Book of Friends (manga, vol. 13) by Yuki Midorikawa, translated by Lillian Olsen

Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 13 - Yuki Midorikawa

In the first part of the volume, Matoba offers Natsume a job. Natsume doesn't want to accept, but he does agree to help with Matoba's little problem, a mask yokai hiding somewhere in his gathering of exorcists. Natori helps Natsume out by getting rid of Matoba's letter. The next part of the volume is a bit from Nishimura's POV - how he and Natsume met and became friends. He never realizes it, but

Natsume took care of a yokai that had been plaguing his family.

(show spoiler)

The volume ends with a story from Kitamoto's POV - how he met and befriended Natsume, and also Tanuma. He connects with Natsume over their shared anxiety about what to do once high school is over.

The stuff with Matoba was interesting and more suspenseful and action-filled than the rest of the volume. Still, I didn't like that part quite as much as the chapters that came after it. The Matoba clan feels so dark and cold compared to most of the people and beings Natsume interacts with. It was nice to see Natori again, though.

The two chapters from Kitamoto and Nishimura's POVs were great examples of why I love this series. Nishimura was such a nice guy, trying to befriend awkward Natsume. Tanuma and Taki are great, but it's also good to see people who have absolutely no clue about Natsume's abilities liking him and enjoying being with him, even though he probably comes across as a little strange from time to time. Kitamoto's chapter was nice too. I liked how he and Natsume had the same sort of seriousness and sense of responsibility - they both want to avoid being a burden on their family, although for different reasons.

I feel like every time I try to describe how good this series is, I make it sound boring...

 

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

Natsume's Book of Friends (manga, vol. 12) by Yuki Midorikawa, translated by Lillian Olsen

Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 12 - Yuki Midorikawa

In the first part of the volume, a yokai tricks Natsume into letting him in - he wants Natsume to use the Book of Friends to summon a yokai named Karikami in order to restore a fragile old note. Natsume gradually learns that

the yokai had once loved a human woman. The man she loved left without telling her and married someone else. To keep her from being hurt, the yokai pretended to be the man for a while.

(show spoiler)

In the next part of the volume, Natsume meets an elderly former god who wants to return a mirror to a dangerous yokai

who, it turns out, was actually Reiko, Natsume's grandmother.

(show spoiler)

The volume ends with a story in which Natsume gets trapped in a jar by a yokai. Tanuma tries to save him and ends up in trouble, at risk of being eaten by yokai. He and Natori finally cross paths.

The first story was very bittersweet and part of an established pattern in this series, in which yokai have fond memories of humans they loved who have long since moved elsewhere or died. I couldn't help but wonder about the woman's part in this story, and what she thought about this strange event in her life.

The second story felt a little scattered - it was intertwined with a cup yokai and a dangerous yokai that could cause trouble for the Fujiwara household. Still, it was nice to see

Reiko again, even though it was yet another bittersweet moment in her life. The poor girl thought she'd finally found a human friend, and it turned out it was yet another yokai. I wonder if the series will ever touch on how she died, and who the father of her child was? I hope he was one of the rare humans she could trust, but I worry that he wasn't.

(show spoiler)


The third story hurt my heart. There was Tanuma, trying to help Natsume but worried that he was just making things worse. And Natsume, worried about Tanuma getting caught up in his messes - he still can't help his knee-jerk desire to keep his supernatural troubles from his friends. Natori is what Natsume might have been, if things had gone a little differently, and he knows it. He's jaded, but hopeful that Natsume can have the kind of life and relationships that he felt he had to cut himself off from.

Not as good as the previous volume, but still quite good.

 

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

Natsume's Book of Friends (manga, vol. 11) by Yuki Midorikawa, translated by Lillian Olsen

Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 11 - Yuki Midorikawa

In the first part of the volume, Natsume and Tanuma help Taki clean up the creepy storage places at her home (her grandpa's old home? my notes are unclear). In the process, they awaken a dangerous doll yokai that Taki's grandfather accidentally sealed. In the next part of the volume, Natsume realizes that he's finally emotionally capable of looking at his parents' photo again. He also decides that he wants to visit his parents' old home one last time before it's sold. In order to visit the house, though, he first has to go to the family he used to live with to get the key. This requires dealing with an increasingly dangerous insect-eating yokai and the family's daughter, who was always jealous of the attention Natsume was given when he lived with them.

I always forget how warm and gentle this series is. Even when it breaks my heart, it does so softly. The art style doesn't really appeal to me - too light and scratchy (or wispy?) - but it works fine for this series and I love the characters and stories enough that it doesn't matter.

I absolutely love volumes like this one, that deal with Natsume's friendships. He's gradually learning to trust his human friends and ask them for help, and to accept help when it's offered. The bit where Tanuma had all his and Natsume's friends stop what they were doing and look for Natsume's missing photo was wonderful.

I also enjoyed the flashbacks to Natsume's past, and the brief glimpses of the Fujiwaras just being all domestic and kind. This is a "fuzzy blanket" sort of series, the kind of thing I want to wrap myself up in.

 

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

"Ready Player One is not bad fanfiction"

I haven't read Ready Player One and am probably never going to, but I still thought this post was interesting, especially in light of some conversations I've had about fanfic with people who genuinely don't understand why people write and read it.

Orange: The Complete Collection (manga, vol. 2) by Ichigo Takano, translated by Amber Tamosaitis

orange: The Complete Collection 2 - Ichigo Takano

Warning: this manga deals with depression and suicide. You've probably already read the first volume and know that, but this volume goes into more detail and includes a lengthy section from the POV of a character up to the moment he makes his decision to commit suicide.

I enjoyed this but had some issues with it that I’m not sure I can articulate. Well, I’ll give it a shot.

Orange is only the first two thirds of this volume. The last third is an unrelated story with a completely different tone. I’ll discuss them separately in this review.

Orange:

This volume picks up right where the first one left off. Naho is still trying to save Kakeru, but now she knows she isn’t alone - literally all of her friends also received letters from their future/parallel universe selves and are also working to save him. Things have changed enough now that the letters don’t always help, although they can still provide a little bit of guidance. But will it be enough? And will Naho and her friends’ efforts really manage to save Kakeru?

One of the things that worried me about the previous volume was the possibility that Takano might be taking the story into “high school romance saves Kakeru” territory. That worry never quite went away - although Takako thought that Kakeru would be fine even if his romance with Naho didn’t work out, Suwa was so unconvinced by this that he continued to sabotage the future he knew he could have with Naho. That said, the way the ending was written indicated that it was everyone, not just Naho, who was necessary to save Kakeru. What he needed wasn’t specifically romance, but rather relationships with people who cared about him, worried about him, and thought about him enough to try to stand by him through everything, even when he actively pushed them away.

Which brings me to the thing I’ve been avoiding writing directly about: suicide. While I think Orange is very good, it feels like something that was written more for people like Naho, Suwa, Takako, Hagita, and Azu than people like Kakeru and his mother. The section from Kakeru’s POV is part of the reason why.

At one point in the volume, Takano includes a flashback to Kakeru’s POV in the original timeline -

all the things that happened to him and contributed to his depression, as well as the one horrible thing that pushed him over the edge and made him decide to commit suicide. It was a very effective bit of storytelling, setting up a sort of final countdown and showing readers the things that Naho and the others didn’t know about but would somehow have to overcome in order to save Kakeru. And as someone who grew up with a mother who was depressed and who worried about contributing to that depression, I can say that Kakeru’s POV felt painfully real.

(show spoiler)


I probably wouldn’t recommend this series to someone who was dealing with depression and/or suicidal feelings unless they had someone they could go to that they felt comfortable talking to. The ending

was intended to be a happy and hopeful one, with Naho and the others accomplishing what they set out to do and determined to keep helping Kakeru even past the point where their letters could guide them. However, all I could think was that, despite everything they knew and all their daily efforts, they still only barely managed to keep him from killing himself. There was, for me, something deeply horrifying about that. And after all that, Kakeru’s reaction to what Naho and everyone else told him felt kind of...understated?

(show spoiler)



When I first started this series, I said that it could maybe be considered science fiction. After reading this volume, I take that back: it definitely isn’t science fiction, despite its occasional passages about parallel universes. Takano’s explanation for how Naho and her friends managed to send their letters back in time and start a parallel universe where Kakeru doesn’t die was absolutely ridiculous. Rather than coming up with some kind of brilliant plan to save Kakeru, they

literally threw their letters into the ocean and those letters somehow made their way into a black hole (or something similar). The letters then somehow all ended up in just the right time and place.

(show spoiler)


Haruiro Astronaut:

Chiki and Mami are identical twins. Mami’s the cute one that guys are always asking out. Since she can never bring herself to say “no” to any of them, even if she isn’t interested in them, Chiki always ends up being the one to break up with them for Mami. And then they ask her out because they view the twins as interchangeable. Chiki wants to find someone who sees her for who she is, rather than as an acceptable substitute for Mami, and who wants to be with her.

Mami introduces Chiki to Yui, a hot new guy in her class, and Chiki falls head over heels in love. Unfortunately for her, he’s interested in Mami. As if the situation weren’t already painful enough, Mami starts to fall for him too. So where does that leave Chiki?

This one’s light and fluffy tone was a welcome change after finishing Orange. The worst thing the characters had to worry about was whether the person they liked happened to like someone else.

This story had not one, but two love triangles: the one mentioned in my summary, involving Chiki, Mami, and Yui, and one involving Chiki, Yui’s best friend, and a guy who initially says he’s interested in Mami. To my surprise, I actually kind of liked these love triangles. Although they both had aspects that were painful for the characters, neither one got to the point of truly hurting anybody and wrecking friendships. I’m still not sure how I feel about the final pairings, but the fact that everyone could still talk to each other and have fun together after everything was said and done was really refreshing.

(And I wonder, am I the only one who looked at that last page and had a sudden vision of Chiki, Tatsuaki, and Natsuki all going on a date together? Natsuki would quietly and happily soak up the atmosphere, Tatsuaki would be overly loud in a failed effort to hide his nervousness, and Chiki would blush and laugh.)

 

Rating Note:

 

If this volume had included the end of Orange and nothing else, I might have given it 3.5 stars. Something about the way Takano wrote about Kakeru and his mother's depression didn't quite sit well with me - I don't think I've figured out exactly what bothered me, but I don't know that I care to spend more time digging into it either.

 

Haruiro Astronaut really was a breath of fresh air and managed to nudge my rating up to 4 stars, which is a bit funny considering that I probably wouldn't have given it that rating if I'd read it on its own.

 

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

Relistening - hey, I did forget some stuff (47 minutes in)

The Fold - Peter Clines, Ray Porter

Oh man, I forgot about the dog. D-:

Relistening

The Fold - Peter Clines, Ray Porter

I first listened to this back in 2016. Maybe this time around I'll actually write a review for it. After less than an hour of listening to Ray Porter I think I've recalled most of the things I liked and disliked about it.

 

The beginning was really good, and really horrifying and tragic now that I'm listening to it with full knowledge of what's going on.

Reading progress update: I've listened 245 out of 245 minutes.

The X-Files: Cold Cases - Dean Haglund, Tom Braidwood, Willliam B. Davis, Dirk Maggs - adaptation, David Duchovny, Audible Studios, Mitch Pileggi, Joe Harris, Chris Carter, Bruce Harwood, Gillian Anderson

I'm now finished with this. It was...so so. Boatloads of nostalgia, but not much of the stuff that I loved about the show. It was very aliens-centric, and the aliens + black oil storylines were never my favorites. I wish there had been more stuff like the Flukeman episode, although maybe less chained to storylines and beings from the original series.

 

The format resulted in a lot of odd dialogue ("Excuse me while I describe aloud everything that I'm currently seeing, since the audience can't see these mysterious lights themselves"), and the ending was a bit of a mess. Still, both Mulder and Scully had some nice lines, and I found that I appreciate Scully as a character even more now than I did back when I was watching the original series. I'm going to think about my final rating for a bit, but I think I'm leaning towards 3 stars. It could have been better, but the nostalgia factor made it a worthwhile listen for me.