I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
There's a good chance this is going to be my last Booklikesopoly read. I'll miss this game - it was usually a fun way to select my next book.
I have a feeling Dinosaur Lords is going to end up on my library donation pile. I can see the Game of Thrones comparisons, but it doesn't grab me the same way that book did. The politics bores me. I don't really have any favorite characters, either. Melodia comes the closest, but... I don't know. I feel like the text has spent more time emphasizing her desire to have sex with Jaume than her desire to do something useful.
I'm guessing on the page number.
Yozo is now being confined at the home of one of his family's former (?) servants. There's more dad-blaming in this than in the original book. Basically: "if only my horrible dad hadn't paid off the cops, I'd have been properly punished for Ageha's death and my life would have been given meaning!" Boo hoo.
Yozo wasn't exactly a sympathetic figure in the original book by this point, but he had least had my sympathy at the beginning. Manga Yozo, not so much. All the male characters see right through him, even his friend, but the female characters just see a good-looking young man with puppy dog eyes. Even if I weren't already familiar with the story, it'd be fairly obvious that Yozo is about to latch onto yet another woman.
(I'll add a cover image in a bit.- ETA: Thanks to whoever added the cover!)
I preordered this after seeing a few clips from the anime - it looks like it has several prominent female characters, all of them cute on the surface and absolutely vicious when it comes to maneuvering for the top spot in their school. The basic premise: it takes place a private school for rich kids, where students are trained to get ahead in life by reading their opponents. Someone decided that the best way to do that was lots and lots of gambling. The school's social order is upset when a new student who's particularly good at gambling arrives.
Not that I need another series to keep track of, but I hope it's good.
This ended a bit earlier than I expected, due to ads and such.
I'll probably get the next volume, but I'm not entirely sure how long this series can go on without getting old. So far, though, it's interesting and funny. My favorite enemies/catastrophes were cedar pollen and a scrape wound. I was iffy about the platelets ("okay, they're cute, but not that cute") until the scrape wound part. They made the most adorable little army.
I hope Macrophage shows up more in the next volume. I loved her character design.
You have no idea how excited I was to learn that 1) a Vocaloid light novel existed and 2) it was available in English. I ordered a copy for myself a few weeks after finding out about it.
A few years ago I was really into Vocaloid (singing synthesizer software). I wasn’t interested in using it myself, just in listening to other people’s songs and reading about the various Vocaloid and UTAUloid avatars. I gradually found a few Vocaloid/UTAUloid tuners I particularly liked (kyaami is my top favorite) and developed a few Vocaloid/UTAUloid preferences (Kaito was probably my first favorite Vocaloid, and Ritsu continues to be my favorite UTAUloid).
I went into this book with an okay background knowledge of Vocaloid in general and Hatsune Miku in particular. Also, I was familiar with the song the book was based on (here's one version on YouTube), enough to know that the book probably wouldn’t have a happy ending.
The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku stars Shinosato Asano, an ordinary university student who spends his days going to class and doing tedious work at a robotics lab and his nights working as a bartender at a nightclub. He’s shocked when the professor in charge of his research lab singles him out to do a field test of a very special new android named Hatsune Miku. The professor wants a student like Asano, who’s responsible, can keep a secret, and doesn’t know too much about artificial intelligence, to see how well Miku can pass for human out in the real world. He’s not supposed to tell anyone, not even his family members, what Miku really is, and he has to make sure Miku goes back to the professor for regular data collection and weekly maintenance.
Miku’s speech and behavior is a little odd and stilted at first, but it rapidly improves. Asano introduces her to everyone as his very intelligent cousin from England (in order to explain why a 16-year-old girl whose Japanese is still a bit rough is suddenly attending university classes), takes her on a tour of the university, and invites her out to lunch. Lunch becomes their regular activity together, and Asano gradually incorporates activities relating to music once he realizes that Miku particularly enjoys it. He starts to realize, to his dismay, that he might be falling for her. What will happen once the field test is over?
I really wanted to love this. I’m generally drawn to android-human romances, and I was already looking forward to the Vocaloid aspects. Miku has never been my top favorite Vocaloid, but she had a lot of cute moments in the book, and I really felt for her. The way the author used Vocaloid-related details in the story was absolutely wonderful. The realization that Asano’s over-the-top love of green onions was a reference to the way Miku is often depicted holding green onions was nice, but there was one revelation further on in the book that I thought was particularly clever and unexpected.
That said, the romance was utterly terrible. It wasn’t so much Asano’s blandness - as much as I disliked how boring he was, it wasn’t unexpected. I did find myself wishing that Asano had more ideas about what to do with Miku than constantly taking her out to eat. I mean, right from the start he was told that she couldn’t eat much, and yet almost all of their outings involved food. It didn’t have to be anything special or expensive - they could have gone for a walk in a park, or gone out grocery shopping, or watched a movie. Pretty much anything they might have done would have been a new experience for Miku and would have provided the professor with more data.
I had two main problems with the romance. First, the way Miku based so many of the things she liked on things that Asano liked. For example, I don’t think she was able to taste food, and yet she’d tell Asano that a particular food tasted good because he liked it and therefore it must taste good. Asano just accepted these statements and was happy about them, but they bothered me - it was one of the reasons why I liked Miku’s budding love of music, because it seemed more purely hers than anything else she’d said she liked.
Second, it gradually became clear that Asano wasn’t so much a nice guy as he was a “nice” guy. His reactions and feelings were more important than hers. Later on in the book, for example, there were strong indications that something was wrong with Miku, to the point that it affected her physically. Rather than noticing this and worrying about her, Asano instead focused on how he felt when he held her and her statement that she wanted the two of them to be together forever. When something drastic either happened to Miku or was done to her, all Asano could think about was how much it hurt him that Miku no longer behaved as warmly towards him as she used to. His first instinct was to abandon the field test rather than investigate what had happened to her and why.
It did eventually dawn on the idiot that he was being a selfish jerk, but it took much, much longer than it should have. I was left feeling like Miku would have been better off leaving Asano in her dust and going on to become a massively popular superstar. Considering what was done to her during the course of the story, maybe leaving all of humanity behind wouldn’t have been a bad idea.
Asano continued to be useless as the sci-fi suspense storyline became more prominent, and pretty much the only reason he was able to get anywhere was because his two friends, Aika and Juuhachi, weren’t as utterly useless as he was. The various sci-fi developments near the end of the book were pretty bonkers, and the big climactic scene was way too over-the-top and ended up feeling silly rather than dramatic or tragically romantic. Although the Vocaloid fan in me did love the bit with the mysterious file.
One last thing: although the writing/translation wasn't terrible, it wasn't great either. I noticed that the author tended to be a bit repetitive. A character would do or say something and then Asano would tell readers what that character had done or said, even though the text had just described it. Once I started noticing this, I realized it happened a lot.
If you’re a huge Vocaloid fan, this might be worth giving a shot. Like I said, the way Vocaloid details were incorporated was wonderful. Everyone else would probably be better off trying something like CLAMP's Chobits or maybe even William Gibson’s Idoru (not romance, and I don’t recall the AI having much of a speaking role, but Rei Toei is practically another incarnation of Hatsune Miku).
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
(Whoops, the character I kept calling "Derek" is actually named Dean. I think I fixed all the instances.)
The Naturals is YA Criminal Minds with some of the usual “secret school for special teens” mixed in. I read an ARC copy I picked up at a conference several years ago (yes, I'm terrible about reading ARCs, which is why I rarely request them).
When Cassie was 12, she entered her mother’s dressing room only to discover a bloody crime scene, but no body. Her mother's body and murderer (because how could she still be alive after losing that much blood?) were never found. Cassie is now 17 and living with her father’s family. She doesn’t feel like she fits in, but she also doesn’t want to be the focus of her family’s often overbearing love and concern.
Ever since she was little, Cassie has had a knack for noticing little details about people and figuring things out about them using those details. She used to use her ability to help her mother, who worked as a psychic. Since her mother’s death, she hasn’t used her skills for much beyond privately guessing things about customers at the diner where she works, so she’s both intrigued and suspicious when a handsome boy gives her an FBI agent’s business card.
The agent presents her with an offer she can’t resist: she can become part of his “Naturals” program, a team of teens with natural skills that take most adults years of training to learn. Because the program members are all minors, they only get to deal with cold cases, but Cassie still jumps at the chance to do something good and useful with her abilities. However, she and the other program members can’t resist getting more and more involved in a difficult, and possibly personal, active case.
Although this book made for smooth and easy reading, I felt like I’d already seen/read a lot of it before. The school-like setting and characters reminded me of books like L.J. Smith’s Dark Visions series and Kelley Armstrong’s The Summoning. As for the serial killer/criminal profiling aspects, I’ve already mentioned Criminal Minds, and one particular revelation probably won’t come as a surprise to fans of Barry Lyga’s Jasper Dent books. Dean’s self-loathing and efforts to push Cassie away reminded me strongly of Stephenie Meyer’s Edward Cullen.
It wasn’t bad; it just didn’t feel terribly original. It didn’t really help that a lot of this book was geared towards setting the stage: introducing the characters, the lingo, and a little of the criminal profiling thought process. The really interesting stuff, the active case, didn’t come up until fairly late in the story.
Still, the Naturals and their abilities interested me. Lia was a natural liar and lie detector. Sloane was a walking collection of statistics who couldn’t help looking for patterns. Michael could read people’s emotions via tiny details in their body language and facial expressions. Dean, like Cassie, was a natural profiler. Sadly, because of the book’s first-person POV, only Dean and Cassie’s abilities received much detailed attention, and Lia and Sloane nearly faded into the background once the love triangle between Cassie, Dean, and Michael was introduced. This was especially awkward considering that Michael had an on-again, off-again relationship with Lia.
I’ll probably read the next book in the series at some point, but I sincerely hope that the love triangle either disappears or fades into the background a lot. It felt like the boys were snapping over Cassie like dogs over a bone. I got the impression that she was leaning more towards Dean, so the kissing scene with Michael near the end really bugged me - it was stupid and seemed entirely intended to add just enough fuel to the love triangle to make the collection of characters in the final showdown more possible. Here's hoping that future books also give Lia and Sloane more of a chance to shine. Sloane seemed sweet, in an awkward sort of way, and I really wanted Lia to be more than the snarky girl potentially standing between Cassie and Michael.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
This, My Soul is a free sci-fi visual novel. The first time I saw it, it was listed as “in development.” I was cautiously excited - it looked slick and the android main character interested me, but there was no guarantee it’d ever be completed. I prefer to play finished products rather than demos.
Thankfully, this is now out of “in development” limbo. I’ve played it through three or four times since downloading it, and my final verdict is...meh. It has some really nice and ambitious aspects, but it doesn’t entirely follow through with all of them, and the android-human romance could have been better.
Backing up a bit, the story: You play as a woman who is the sole survivor of a spaceship accident of some sort. The game allows you to choose the woman’s name - if I remember right, the default is “Kyndle.” Kyndle was rescued by a laborer-class android named Silas, who put her in cryogenic sleep. Because the cryogenic pod is old, Kyndle can’t stay asleep for the entire trip back to civilization, but she also can’t stay awake for the full trip. The plan is for her to be awake at the beginning and then go back to sleep near the end.
In the meantime, Silas helps Kyndle get her strength and full range of movement back, and makes sure she regains some of the weight she lost. At times, Kyndle can’t even move without Silas’s help.
Players have several ways they can approach the game: they can be suspicious of Silas and resistant to the idea of being attracted to an android; they can be friendly towards Silas and more than a little attracted; they can be openly flirtatious; or they can be some combination of all three. There are three possible endings, which the developer/author called the Normal end, Friendship end, and Romance end. However, those aren’t really the best way to describe them.
The “normal” end is the one where Kyndle doesn’t really give a crap about Silas and his fate. The “friendship” end is bittersweet - I’d like to think that everything works out for the best, but it isn’t guaranteed. There can be a strong thread of romance leading up to this ending, depending on the options you choose, so it’s not strictly a “friendship” end. The “romance” end definitely ends with Silas and Kyndle together and is probably the best ending for Silas overall, but I still had some issues with it. It doesn’t require that you hit all of the story’s “romantic” scenes, and it presents readers with a happy ending but doesn’t bother to explain how Kyndle and Silas are supposed to achieve that happy ending in the long term.
There were some things I really liked about this visual novel. First, it made an effort at adjusting to reader choices. Early on in the story, readers could decide which job Kyndle had, out of five possible choices. Later conversation options then adjusted to these choices. If Kyndle was a medical officer, then she knew a bit more about cryogenic sleep. If she was a mechanical engineer, she understood a bit more about the ship’s functions. This was kind of nice, but it wasn’t carried out as thoroughly as it could have been. For example, I got really annoyed when medical officer Kyndle became outraged at Silas feeding her high calorie meals in order to increase her weight. I forget her exact words, but it amounted to “women don’t like to gain weight, why didn’t you ask me first.” But as a medical officer she should have understood that her time in cryogenic sleep had left her underweight and that she’d have to gain that weight back before going back to sleep.
This is technically a fairly short visual novel, but its numerous decision points and choices made it feel longer. The sheer number of decisions overwhelmed me at first, but I came to like them more during subsequent playthroughs. The “skip” button definitely helped - as in many visual novels, you could set it to skip text you’d seen before.
That said, I haven’t played through all the possible story choices yet, and I doubt I ever will. I tried, I really did, but some of them really didn’t appeal to me. Like I said earlier on in this review, you could opt to play this game several ways. I preferred being neither hostile/suspicious nor very flirty. The flirty options sometimes made me uncomfortable because Silas seemed so taken aback. In one instance, he even went as far as to remind Kyndle that he was a laborer-class android and not built for anything sexual. To me, his response came across as discomfort, and I really wanted Kyndle to just back off. I had similar problems forcing myself to choose the hostile/suspicious options all the way through.
It was weird how the game was so adaptable in some ways (different wording at certain points depending on the job Kyndle had) and yet so rigid in other ways. For example, during one of my playthroughs I tried to made Kyndle as suspicious as possible. I found myself unable to carry this through all the way to the end, so she became friendlier later in the game. Considering how she had behaved towards Silas up to that point, I’d have expected him to respond coldly or neutrally to almost anything she said, but that wasn’t the case.
There were times when it felt like the romance aspects were being laid on too thick. The worst was probably the massage scene (which I later figured out was skippable without any noticeable effect on the ending). How did a laborer-class android even learn to give a proper massage? I’d have expected medical officer Kyndle to have some questions about that, but nope. I did like the scene in the control room (navigation room?), though.
Art-wise, this was a mixed bag. The sprites looked great, but the CG art was nowhere near as slick and pretty. I wish the person who had done the sprite art had also done the CG art. Also, the music, while appropriate to the setting, wasn’t very memorable.
All in all, this wasn’t bad, but it didn’t work for me nearly as well as I’d hoped it would. Too many points in Kyndle and Silas’s romance made me uncomfortable, and even the happiest of the three endings left me feeling worried that society and/or the corporation that created Silas would tear them apart.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
I'm not sold on this one yet. I've been having a terrible time following what's been going on. Why did Rob, who seemed to admire Voyvod Karyl Bogomirskiy, try so hard to set things up so that he'd be defeated? And why was Voyvod (Karyl? I've seen him called either one) betrayed?
I got this almost entirely because of the dinosaurs, and I'm a little bummed that, so far, I'm having trouble picturing them as the living, breathing, awesome creatures they're supposed to be.
I should probably start thinking about a new computer, but it seems to be holding up so far. I've had it on for a couple hours and it hasn't spontaneously blacked out, so that's good. We'll see if I can convince it to properly go to sleep in a bit.
Anyway, books finished so far:
Dice roll: No screen shot since I did it on my phone a few hours earlier, but I rolled a 5 and a 3 for a total of 8.
I was at Water Works, so this puts me at Paradise Pier 30.
I took a look at the GR pages for several books I thought might be tagged "suspense," but the closest they came was "thriller." I wasn't sure if that counted, so I went with the page number aspect instead. I'm now reading The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milan, which is 574 pages if you don't count the excerpt for the next book at the end.
Finished! Which means I can roll again. One problem: my computer is acting up and this time around it might not be a false alarm. I'll try to write a Booklikesopoly post today, but if I have to do it on my phone or tablet it'll be bare bones.
This book was ok. Cassie did some stupid things at the end, but I forgave her because she didn't exactly have a lot of options, considering the info (or lack thereof) that she had at the time. I'm interested enough to continue the series, but I sincerely hope that the next book has less of the tense love triangle.
Almost done with all the volumes of this series that I bought on Friday! I'm enjoying it, but I do have some issues with it:
- I'm pretty sure Hotaru knew about Toy Gun Gun's "No Girls Allowed" rule as early as volume 1, so it's a little weird that it comes as such a shock to her now.
- There had better be more to the explanation for why Toy Gun Gun doesn't allow girls than(show spoiler)
And dang Aoharu x Machinegun's Japan has a lot of ex-mercenaries who enjoy playing with fancy BB guns.
Book shopping yesterday was an adventure. The power went out twice, both times while I was paying or about to pay. And it didn't just go out for the store I was in, but for several blocks. Traffic lights, everything.
But it all worked out in the end, unless you count the damage to my shelf space. I offloaded one bag of books and brought back three bags of books.
Anyway, here's the haul. It's lovely, even though I'm still debating where to put it all. I need to put together a library donation bag or two. (I have different criteria for donating rather than selling - the library I work at gets most of the manga I decide I don't want, for example. 99% of the library's manga collection used to belong to me.)
Aoharu x Machinegun vols. 1-3 - I read the first volume while eating a late lunch yesterday. This series starts off a little like Ouran High School Host Club, only with guns and the heroine never actually revealing that she's a girl.
Gravitation EX, Volume 01 - Maki Murakami - I want to do an "everything Gravitation" reread at some point.
Ceres: Celestial Legend, Vol. 2: Yuhi - Yuu Watase - Filling in a gap in my collection. I think I'm only missing a couple volumes now.
Crown of Love, Vol. 2 - Yun Kouga - I really like Kouga's Loveless (which I think might be on hiatus?) but have never read any of the author's other works. I'd need to get volume 1, but that shouldn't be too hard.
Several other manga volumes to try out. Surprisingly, there are still Alice in the Country of volumes I haven't read. I wonder how close I am to finally being done?
Japanese light novels! I already know I like Baccano, and most of the rest are ones I'd like to try out.
And all the rest of these, except for Gil's All Fright Diner, are "I need to read more of the series first before I can touch this" books.
I'm about to go book shopping, but I hope to finish this up today.
This is definitely heavier on the entertainment than the education, despite the little info boxes explaining the nonfiction aspects. For the education aspects to be stronger, there'd need to be diagrams here and there explaining what really happens in the body. I need to read up on what steroids actually do, but I feel like wholesale destruction and carnage isn't it. O_o
I'm guessing on the page number.
The book's first villain was Streptococcus pneumoniae. Now I'm to the second villain, cedar pollen allergens, and it's hilarious. A memory cell in the background freaking out and making dire predictions, a B cell blowing everything up, and a mast cell turning the histamine dial to max. My one complaint: Shimizu isn't very good at drawing chaos in a way that's still easy to follow. There are panels where it's difficult to tell what exactly is going on.
Anyway, my favorite line: "This is the cedar pollen allergy of legend." The guy in the front is the memory cell (please excuse the blurriness).
Okay, this is pretty cute so far. My favorites are the various violent White Blood Cells.
The platelets (a few pages earlier):
And the capillary door sign: