I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
It won't be out until 2019 (!), but apparently Boyfriend Dungeon is supposed to be a cross between a dungeon crawler and a dating sim. You can defeat enemies and date your weapon.
I've only read a couple articles on it, and none of them have mentioned Soul Eater, but they really should. It's a series (manga, anime) set in a world where two or more people (mostly pairs) team up to collect the souls of evil humans and witches. At least one person in each team has the ability to transform into a weapon that another person in the team uses. The main characters are a girl and her scythe partner.
It'll be interesting to see how Boyfriend Dungeon works out. It'd be nice if it were a little further along and actually had a release date.
I was looking at one of my old reviews and came across someone else's review of the same work, written two years after mine, that covers almost the same points (every point in their review is mentioned in mine, although their review doesn't cover everything mentioned in mine) in almost the same order. No exact phrases lifted from my review but it still feels...weird.
Since my vacation always involves going to visit my parents, I use my still active library card to put a bunch of manga volumes on hold. I'm a little late to get started on that this year, but it should work out fine anyway.
This is why I love the series pages in Library Thing. I just go to the page for a particular manga series, check what volume I stopped at, and request from there. So far my list includes volumes from:
- Natsume's Book of Friends
- Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun
- Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto
- Skip Beat
- Black Butler
I'll probably also continue to slog through Naruto and maybe Attack on Titan. Then I have to figure out what new-to-me titles to try out that the library actually owns.
I haven't finished my Vampires book yet because work is kicking my butt and I haven't done much else besides it so far this week (and crap, I may have to go in over the weekend too, although I will escape long enough to eat Schnitzel with a bunch of happy strangers).
However, Monster was called today! I got to mark it with Welcome to Night Vale, so unidentified tall dog brings me my first Bingo. :-D
Finished But Not Yet Marked:
Finished and Marked:
It's getting closer and closer to the day I go on vacation, which means increasing amounts of travel anxiety and an increased desire to deal with it by buying books. I tried to channel it into just book browsing, but then I remembered that I got a bunch of gift cards for my birthday. And so there was book shopping last night.
Not counting the one bundle I decided to get, here's what I got (or will be getting, once the two paper books arrive in the mail):
Dreamhearth (The Dreamhealers Book 3) - M.C.A. Hogarth - Although Hogarth's pacing is often weird, possibly due to the fact that many of her works start off as serials, Jahir and Vasiht'h are my favorite characters of hers. I was thrilled to learn that her Dreamhealers Duology was going to be continued with a third book.
City of Betrayal: An Isandor Novel: Volume 2 (City of Spires) - Claudie Arseneault - I didn't read my ARC copy in time, but now I can read the published version with final edits. Here's hoping none of my favorite characters die!
Loveless, Vol. 12 - Yun Kouga - I've put so many years into this series that I can't not read this volume. So many messed up and/or unsettling characters. I really need to sit down and read and review the whole thing from start to...the point where it's currently stalled. Is Kouga ever going to finish this series?
Tales of Sector General - James White - The last few books/stories in the Sector General universe, including one from Prilicla's POV. I love Prilicla. So manipulative, and yet so likeable.
- This is going to be a quick read, as long as I don't let myself get distracted by another book.
- This book is missing pretty much every possible emotional note that isn't directly related to Alain (wizard) and Orlando (vampire) angsting over each other. Technically they've spent the past few chapters testing the ability of wizard blood to allow vampires to walk in sunlight unharmed, but it comes across more like Alain and Orlando are two horny teenagers who can't keep away from each other. There was a battle just a few hours ago that killed Alain's best friend Thierry's wife (estranged, but still). No one seemed to be very affected by all of those deaths, even Thierry. He got a little angry, and there was one line about him telling himself to keep it together, but that was it.
- There are chapter breaks, but no scene breaks. This has mostly just been a little jarring, but at one point it had the unfortunate effect of making it seem like Orlando was calmly drinking espresso at the edge of a bloody battle like it was no big deal.
I'm aiming for my first Bingo with a book I know for a fact has vampires in it. But I'm wary. I stopped buying Dreamspinner Press books after learning that they had zero problems publishing P2P fanfic. Although I still own quite a few books of theirs that I purchased before that point, I also don't read their stuff much anymore, since my tastes have changed and they just don't look as appealing to me now.
It starts off with an author's note. The beginning of the second paragraph: "I can very proudly state that I've never read a vampire story. Not Anne Rice, not Laurel K. Hamilton, not Bram Stoker. The closest I've ever come was a monologue I read in seventh grade called 'Dress of White Silk.'" Uhh. I'm not sure it's a good idea to say you've "proudly" never read any vampire stories when your books includes vampires as prominent characters, although I'm guessing this is supposed to indicate how original the story I'm about to read is going to be. And it's "Laurell," not "Laurel." So I'm raising an eyebrow at the editor too.
Vintage’s protagonist is an unnamed mostly closeted gay teen, who I will call MC (short for “Main Character”) from here on out. MC ran away from home after his parents reacted badly to learning that he was gay, so now he lives with his aunt, who he’s afraid might do the same thing. The only people who know his secret are his new friend Trace and several other friends she introduced him to.
His life here is better than it had been back with his parents. He has friends, he’s convinced his aunt to let him drop out of school and get his GED and work instead, and he likes his job at the vintage clothing shop. Still, a part of him is always afraid that the wrong person will find out he’s gay and ruin everything and, at the same time, he desperately wants a boyfriend. When he sees a cute boy in vintage clothes walking alone, he takes a risk and talks to him. And even though he’s a weird goth kid talking to a guy dressed like a jock, it doesn’t go badly! Unfortunately for MC, Josh, the cute boy, is a ghost.
At first, MC and Trace are delighted at the prospect of meeting a real ghost. However, things soon take a turn for the worse. Josh follows MC home. Although MC is excited that a boy is finally interested in him, Josh’s touch could literally suck the life out of him. Josh’s raging jealousy is another problem. If MC and Trace can’t figure out how to put Josh to rest, MC and anyone he cares out could end up dead.
The first half of this book wasn’t my cup of tea at all. Nearly every character was messed up in some way, and it seemed like a potentially murderous ghost was the least of their problems. Liz's parents were mostly absent. Trace's mother was in an institution, her older brother, Mike, was either dead or a runaway, and her mother had her younger brother as a replacement for her older brother, even going so far as to name him after him. MC had tried to commit suicide in the past but instead had just woken up in a puddle of his own vomit.
MC’s friends’ idea of fun was getting together and drinking something called Jim Joneses, a mixture of different flavors of Kool-Aid, vodka, and, in one special glass, a random crushed up pill from the hostess’s medicine cabinet. At the particular gathering featured in the book, they then tried out a Ouija board - at the time, only Trace and MC knew it would be a bad idea for MC to be involved in anything like that.
At any rate, this had more drug use and steamier sex than I generally expect to find in a young adult book. For those wondering, I felt the drug use was at least presented as a negative thing, and the sex (a couple scenes, if I remember right) was explicit enough to include bodily fluids but wasn’t otherwise very detailed.
The second half of the book was better than the first. It included more ghost scenes, including one aspect I love in “I can see ghosts” stories: MC realizing that he can’t always tell when the person he’s seeing or talking to is a ghost or not. Creepy. My favorite instance of this involved a ghost with a connection to one of MC’s friends.
Another nice thing about the second half of the book was the way MC gradually gained self-confidence. He learned that there were more supportive people in his life than he realized, and he started a relationship with a boy who was a much healthier option than Josh. I liked how their relationship progressed, and I liked the way MC did his best to keep from rushing him into anything. They seemed like they’d make a sweet couple.
I thought I’d end up hating this book, but it actually grew on me. I don’t know that I’d ever want to reread it, but if there were ever a sequel I’d probably give it a shot. And I’d hope that Mike got a prominent role. Considering his situation, it was amazing how well-adjusted he was. Instead of ingesting pills like everyone else, he created amazing sculptures.
One thing I’m still wondering about: why MC was never named. At first, I assumed it was a sign of his low self-esteem. If someone had told him he was a character in a book and asked him to guess what his role probably was, in the first half of the book he’d probably have said Trace was the main character and he was her sidekick. He viewed her as perfect and wonderful, while he was anything but. It was painful. He became more confident later on, but when the perfect opportunity presented itself for the author to finally have another character name him, all readers got was something along the lines of “He said my name.” If the name thing had been meant as an indicator of his feelings about himself, it would have made more sense to have someone finally say his name at some point near the end.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders starts off with a “last will and testament” written by Heikichi Umezawa in 1936. In this document, he detailed his belief that he is possessed and how he came to the realization that killing six of his daughters and nieces would solve his problems. Using their zodiac signs as a guide, he’d take one body part from each young woman and construct Azoth, the perfect woman.
The story then fast forwards to about 40 years later. Kazumi, a mystery fan, is describing the facts of the Tokyo Zodiac Murders to his friend Kiyoshi, an astrologer and occasional detective. The six young women were, in fact, killed and mutilated in the manner described in Heikichi’s will, but Heikichi couldn’t possibly have done it: he’d been dead for several days prior to the murders. In addition to Heikichi’s murder and the Azoth murders, one of Heikichi’s other stepdaughters was also killed. No one is sure whether that murder was related to the others or not.
After Kiyoshi takes on a client with a distant but potentially embarrassing connection to the case, Kiyoshi and Kazumi end up with a one-week deadline to solve a mystery that no one else has managed to solve in 40 years. Diagrams included throughout the text invite readers to solve the mystery along with them.
If you like trying to solve mysteries before a book’s fictional detective does, you really need to give this a try. It’s an excellent puzzle, and the author even interjects a couple times in order to let readers know when enough information has been included to allow them to solve the mystery. Of course, he interjects late enough that readers have more information than they need, muddying the water a bit, but that’s part of the fun.
The first part, with Heikichi’s will, was particularly strong. Heikichi casually describing why he needed to kill his daughters and nieces was incredibly creepy. I promise, though, that that’s as creepy as the book gets. Although the description of how the murders were actually accomplished was horrifying, the book’s overall tone didn’t have much of a feeling of creepiness, horror, or even urgency to it. Yes, Kiyoshi only had a week to solve the mystery, but the only things at stake, really, were his ego and reputation. Most of the people directly affected by the Tokyo Zodiac Murders were long dead.
There were a few times when I started to lose interest as the book became a little too “two guys talking about the facts of the case,” but for the most part those facts were really interesting. I had all kinds of theories about who might have killed Heikichi and how, how Kazue, Heikichi’s eldest stepdaughter, was involved, and who had killed the other women. None of my theories fit all of the facts of the case, and all my theories were torpedoed after Shimada included one particular document.
Kazumi, who was basically Kiyoshi’s Watson, had some ideas of his own that sounded promising, but I was fairly certain that he’d miss the key detail that would bring everything together. By the time Kiyoshi finally announced that he’d solved the murders, both Kazumi and I were thoroughly lost. It got to the point where I felt like Shimada was practically shoving the finished puzzle under my nose and I still couldn’t solve it. It was frustrating and fun at the same time. If it hadn’t been for work and sleep, I’d probably have read the last part of the book, where everything was finally revealed, all in one go. I can confidently say that I’d never have figured everything out on my own. There were aspects that stretched my suspension of disbelief, but, even so, the solution was really good.
All in all, this was a very enjoyable mystery that kept me guessing until the final revelation. It was very deliberately structured like a puzzle that readers were invited to solve along with Kiyoshi and Kazumi, but, despite the author’s two interjections, it still didn’t feel quite as detached as a couple similar mysteries I can think of. Kiyoshi and Kazumi had some life to them and didn’t just feel like pieces on the author’s gameboard. I particularly enjoyed their conversation about Sherlock Holmes and well-known mystery authors, and Kazumi's enjoyment of various locations in Japan made me wish I could visit them myself.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
Hot Steamy Glasses features two stories, although the second one is extremely short, more of an extra than anything. Most of the volume is devoted to the story of Takeo and Fumi. Takeo is the president of a successful I.T. company. He’s been in love with his friend Fumi for the past 17 years. He lives in hope that, despite being heterosexual, Fumi will one day agree to live with him and go on a date with him. Fumi’s younger brother, Shogo, is doubtful of this but does want something to change: either for Fumi to finally give Takeo a chance or for Takeo to move on and fall in love with someone who isn’t quite so mean to him.
Takeo’s an otaku, specifically one who’s into moe characters (romanized here as “moeh”), and Fumi isn’t shy about expressing his annoyance and disgust. Still, Takeo persists and does what he can to appeal to Fumi and make him happy.
I picked this one up after reading a review that described it as sweet and said that it contained surprisingly little sex. I hoped that this meant it’d be non-rapey.
Although Hot Steamy Glasses had quite a few amusing conversations and lines, it didn’t turn out to be the sweet and fun romance I’d hoped for. The first chapter was written from the perspective of Shogo, Fumi’s younger brother, and I was immediately convinced that the real romance would be between Takeo and Shogo. Shogo would finally convince Takeo to stop chasing after his brother, who’d repeatedly told Takeo that he wasn’t interested and who, to top it off, was also a bit of a jerk. Shogo would give Takeo a shoulder to cry on, and gradually the two of them would fall in love. That story would have been so much better than what actually happened.
The first half of the volume was okay, even after I realized, to my dismay, that Fumi really was the person the author planned to pair Takeo off with. The chapter where Fumi got sick had some nice funny moments, and I particularly liked Reiko, the secretary Takeo sent to take care of Fumi after he had to go back to work.
The volume took a sudden turn for the worse when Fumi finally agreed to be Takeo’s boyfriend. For one thing, Fumi’s change of heart came practically out of nowhere. He’d spent 17 years telling Takeo “no,” and here he was, changing his mind because of a few comments from Shogo and because Takeo reeeally loved him. Never mind that he’d repeatedly said he wasn’t gay and that Takeo had shown some tendencies towards controlling behavior, asking Fumi to quit his job and move in with him so that he could take care of him. Fumi’s response to Takeo telling him to quit his job was one of the few times I cheered for Fumi.
For another, there was the issue of sex. It strained my suspension of disbelief that Fumi had more of a problem with the lack of sex in their relationship than with the idea of having sex with a man for the first time. Again, he’d spent his entire life up to this point believing himself to be heterosexual, and there were no prior signs that he was interested in Takeo or other men. Even so, the only thing that bugged him was that his and Takeo’s relationship wasn’t much different after they officially became boyfriends than it was before. They didn’t really go out on dates, they didn’t kiss, and they didn’t have sex.
And boy did the lack of sex bother him. That’s when the volume got slightly rapey. Fumi decided that the two of them were finally going to have sex, and that was that: “Even if he resists, I’m gonna force him!” Thankfully, Fumi was gone when he got home, or it might have gone from slightly rapey to “this includes rape.”
Or maybe not. Their first sex scene was very sudden, and also initiated by Takeo. There was none of the awkwardness I would have expected, considering. Just BOOM, sex. Even Fumi found himself wondering why Takeo was so skillful and confident considering that he was probably a virgin.
Okay, let’s go back to the “Fumi really wants sex and isn’t getting any” stuff for a bit, so I can talk about something else that bugged me. I’m sure it was completely unintentional on the author’s part, but this part of the volume became a bit acephobic. As Fumi tried to feel his way around how to handle this part of their relationship, his frustrated thoughts included statements like “What is he, still a middle school student…?” and “I’m almost thirty years old! ‘Going together’ = ‘sex’ - I’m sure I’m not mistaken on that point.”
The implication was pretty clear: if Takeo really hadn’t been interested in having sex, Fumi couldn’t have handled it. And then the volume might have included rape instead of, say, the two of them talking through their differing needs and maybe breaking up if they couldn’t figure out a resolution that would work for both of them. The last time I had to deal with crap like this was in a book actually featuring an asexual character. This wasn’t quite as bad as that, but I still really could have done without it.
The volume’s ending was the one thing I’d agree was sweet. It took place several years after the events of the bulk of the story, showing how things were working out for Takeo, Fumi, Shogo, and Reiko. That said, it couldn’t make up for Takeo and Fumi’s shoddily constructed “romance.”
The volume ends with a short unrelated manga, “Young Love Graffiti.” Naomi fell in love with his tutor, Aki, when he was in junior high, but he didn’t realize it at the time and they both went their separate ways. He was excited to reconnect with Aki when they were both invited to the same wedding reception, but their relationship since then hasn’t been nearly as wonderful as Naomi could have wished. Naomi worries that he’s more in love with Aki than Aki is with him.
This story was so forgettable that I had to reread it before writing this review. It accomplished little more than adding to the volume’s page count, and I’ll probably forget it again in a few hours.
All in all, Hot Steamy Glasses wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be, and the artwork didn’t do much to make up for the story’s deficiencies - many of the male characters looked alike, and characters’ expressions could have been better.
The volume includes a 2-page manga-style afterword by the author. The afterword was a little funny. Kaiya’s editor noticed that both of the stories contained characters with the same family name, and both of those characters looked kind of similar, so Kaiya came up with a quickie explanation that relied on both of the stories being set in the same world.
I struggled with rating this. Parts of my review make this sound like a 1-star read, but I didn't hate it enough for that. I finally settled on 2 stars. Either way, it's going on my "offload to free up shelf space" pile.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
I suppose you could call Tacoma an adventure game, although it more of an interactive story than a game. There are a few instances where you need to figure out people’s passcodes, but they’re so easy to figure out that they don’t really count as puzzles.
You play as Amy Ferrier, a contractor sent to Tacoma station by Venturis, the company that owns Tacoma. A short while ago an accident happened and the station, which had housed six human employees, one AI named ODIN, and a cat, is now abandoned. Your job is to explore the station and retrieve AI-recorded data and ODIN’s wetware.
The AI-recorded data takes the form of recordings that your augmented reality device allows you to see as though you’re glimpsing into the station’s past. All the characters are represented by colored silhouettes of themselves. You can rewind and fastforward in order to follow different people and occasionally access their emails and other files.
I can’t say too much about the story because it’s fairly simple and it’d be too easy to give everything away. The big question, as you’re playing, is what happened and whether anyone survived. Although you play as Amy, you aren’t privy to her thoughts. She knows more about the situation and what’s going on than you do, but it’s okay, because nothing in the game prevents you from taking as much time as you’d like in each area of the station. Just make sure you don’t leave a particular part of the station until you’ve done everything you want to do - I’m fairly certain you can’t go back or, if you can, AR data will no longer be accessible in that area.
As you travel through the station, you learn more about each of the characters: E.V., the station administrator; Clive, the operations specialist; Natali, the network specialist; Roberta (Bert), the mechanical engineer; Andrew, the botanist; and Sareh, the medic. You also get to see them interact with ODIN and, if you purchased the game through Steam, you can try to find the station cat in order to get one of the Steam achievements. I had fun trying to think of where the cat might decide to nap in each area, although I did worry that I'd end up witnessing its death. (Spoiler:
The cast is diverse, both in terms of race and sexual orientation. As you look through their belongings (to whatever degree you’d like - I was curious and it didn’t feel too creepy, so I looked through every drawer and locker I could), you find out more about how they all got along and what their problems and issues were. My favorite character out of the bunch was probably Sareh, who had anxiety and panic attacks due to an event in her past, but who was still competent and professional despite that. I really liked her and ODIN’s interactions, even as I worried about ODIN being the only one she could confide in.
As someone who loves AI characters, I enjoyed ODIN and I loved the role he played in the story. I did find myself wishing for a bit more from him - players don’t get much of his perspective until the very end of the game.
Tacoma is very short. Even though I spent quite a bit of time exploring and looking at unimportant things like random packages, wrappers, and coffee mugs, I finished the whole thing (minus a few Steam achievements) in about four hours. That said, my biggest complaint about the game wasn’t the length, but rather how playing the game affected me physically.
When I first started, I couldn’t play for more than 20 minutes or so before developing headaches and nausea. I tried messing with the Gameplay and Graphics settings, turning off “head bob” and trying out different FOV settings, but it only seemed to help a little. The best solution I found was actually remembering to wear my glasses while playing. I don’t usually wear them at home and rarely wear them while watching TV or playing games, and it almost never causes a problem. In this case, though, it turns out they were vital. They never completely got rid of my headache and nausea problem, but without them I’d probably still be creeping my way through the game in 20-minute increments.
All in all, this was a simple and fairly short story told in a fascinating way. I loved getting to find out what happened in bits and pieces via AR data, files, notes, ads, and emails. Although I found myself wishing that the story had been a little bit more flexible and allowed for other endings, I was happy with the one ending players were given.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
I finished Steve Berman's Vintage: A Ghost Story, YA horror, allowing me to mark my Chilling Children square, although it would have also worked for American Horror Story, Haunted Houses, In the Dark, Dark Woods (a stretch), and, if I hadn't already marked it, Ghost.
Now I need to read and finish something with vampires in it, and I'll finally have my first Bingo. Unless Monsters is finally called. Come on Monsters, please get called before Supernatural.
Finished But Not Yet Marked:
Finished and Marked:
Finished! The second half was more enjoyable than the first, thank goodness. There were some nice ghost moments, and Mike, Trace's little brother, was sweet and probably the least messed up character in the story, despite his history. I'm still wondering what the point was of not naming the main character. If the idea was to present him as someone who didn't have the self-esteem to accept himself as the main character of his own story, it would have been better to allow his name to finally be mentioned somewhere in the second half of the story, when he started to become more confident.
I'm reading this for my Chilling Children square. So far it's not exactly to my taste. The main character (whose name has never been mentioned and will therefore be called MC - Main Character) is a mostly closeted gay teen whose past suicide attempt gave him the ability to see ghosts. Something about it reminds me of Maggie Stiefvater's Lament, although thankfully MC isn't nearly as horrible as the main character of that book, just depressing. If someone told him he was a character in a book and asked him to guess what role he was playing, I get the feeling he'd say that his best friend Trace was the main character and that he was her sidekick.
Right now MC, Trace, and several friends are having a gathering where the "fun" activity is drinking something called Jim Joneses: a mixture of different flavors of Kool-Aid, vodka, and, in one special glass, a random ground up pill from the hostess's mother's medicine cabinet.
It looks like MC's choices for things to do are limited to 1) hanging out with friends who have terrible ideas about what counts as fun, 2) hanging out with a sexy ghost who almost killed him the first time they kissed and sort of had sex, 3) going to work, and 4) hanging out with Trace's younger brother, who is probably just as messed up as a lot of the other characters but who seems to be channeling it into his artwork rather than ingesting random pills. I want more scenes with the younger brother.
This links to a particular Robot Hugs comic. I'm not familiar with the comic as a whole (according to the About page, some are NSFW), but this particular one make me smile. It's about someone discovering what cat purring is like for the very first time.